EEOC: Firm 'Crushed' Workers' Hopes for Better Life

January 3, 2003 ( - The federal government has sued a Tulsa, Oklahoma oil industry parts manufacturer for forcing more than 50 East Indian workers to put up with ethnic slurs and long hours for little pay and sleep in a warehouse.

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a suit filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma that the John Pickle Company falsely promised the workers they would be treated like their American counterparts if they came to the US.

Instead, the EEOC alleges, Pickle subjected the workers to racial and ethnic harassment, discriminatory pay, and other workplace discrimination. The EEOC said they worked under armed guard and “the constant threat of deportation.” The group included high-tech welders, fitters, electricians, engineers and cooks.

Robert A. Canino, Regional Attorney of the EEOC’s Dallas District Office, said the US Department of Labor also filed suit earlier this year against Pickle alleging minimum wage and overtime pay violations

“These workers were lured to America with false promises of decent treatment and fair pay, only to find themselves exploited and subjected to harsh degradation based on their race and national origin,” said Canino in a statement. “Their hopes for a better life were crushed.”

The EEOC suit seeks lost wages, as well as compensatory and punitive damages for the harm suffered by the employees as well as a court order barring any future discrimination.