Judge Orders Company to Pay Workers in Discrimination Suit

June 1, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A federal judge ordered John Pickle Company, Inc., a Tulsa, Oklahoma-based oil industry parts manufacturer, and its president, John Pickle, to pay 52 skilled laborers $1.24 million in an employment discrimination lawsuit.

In addition to employment discrimination, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission also alleges that Pickle and his company violated  Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 . The EEOC is seeking lost wages, “compensatory and punitive damages for the harm suffered by the employees.” The agency joined its suit with the private suit some workers filed, which included similar allegations but not Title VII.

According to a 2003 EEOC  news release , Pickle recruited the East Indian workers – high-tech welders, fitters, electricians, engineers and cooks – to the US, assuring them good working conditions. In the lawsuit, the EEOC contends that the workers endured “racial and ethnic harassment, discriminatory pay and other discriminatory terms and conditions of employment.”

EEOC argues in the lawsuit that armed guards and a constant threat of deportation restricted the workers from leaving the premises and forced them to sleep in a warehouse. The Department of Labor also filed suit in 2003, citing minimum wage and overtime pay violations, according to the EEOC news release.

According to the Business & Legal Reports’ human resource management Web site, the workers said the company paid them from $1 to $3.17 per hour, but it paid non-Indian employees about $14 per hour for the same type of work.