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Discrimination alleged at California oil refinery

A former worker at an oil refinery in California owned by Shell, a major oil company, has sued her former employers alleging sexual harassment and discrimination based on sex, as well as wrongful termination based on employer retaliation.

The woman says in her lawsuit that she worked in a department that was heavily staffed by men, and management allowed a hostile environment to thrive in that department. The woman said that male employees would make rude remarks about women and would also suggest that women did not really belong in that work environment.

One supervisor allegedly even said that women "do not last long" on the team where this former employee was staffed. In another incident, an anonymous person left a lewd sticker on the woman's desk.

The woman says she reported these matters to the proper authorities within the company, but management did not take steps to correct the situation. The woman's attorney commented that managers frequently ignore or do not adequately address sexual harassment claims.

As for her wrongful termination claim, the woman alleged the company's firing her for "unsatisfactory performance" while she was a new employee on probation was simply an excuse, and the real reason the company fired her was because she complained about harassment. She also states that she insisted on certain safety regulations being followed with respect to a sulfuric acid spill that her supervisor apparently did not report. The woman alleged that the termination came as a surprise since, the previous week, her supervisor had given her a favorable evaluation.

This case illustrates that, even in big companies with large-scale initiatives designed to prevent sexual harassment, it can and often does still occur. Los Angeles victims of sexual harassment have legal options available to them.

Source: The Mercury News, "Shell Oil sued over claim of sexual harassment, discrimination in the East Bay," Annie Sciacca, July 20, 2017

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