Beaumont company sued by EEOC for alleged age discrimination

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Sep. 6, 2010, 8:30am

Alleging age and disability discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and Americans with Disabilities Act, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against DynMcDermott Petroleum Operations Co. after they allegedly failed to hire Mike Swafford because he was 56 years old and because his wife had cancer.

The federal lawsuit was filed on Aug. 26 in the Eastern District of Texas, Beaumont Division.

DynMcDermott Petroleum Operations is a privately held company that provides maintenance and operation services for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Mike Swafford was laid off from the position of maintenance planner/scheduler with the defendant in June 2003. At the invitation from his former supervisor, Swafford was interviewed for his previously held position in February 2008. When he applied for the position, he was 56 years old and his wife was suffering from cancer, which required on-going care.

According to the allegations, during the interview Swafford was asked questions about his wife's condition and how it may affect his attendance. Although recommended for the position by two supervisors, the manager/director allegedly made disparaging references to Swafford's age and his wife's illness during the hiring process.

In March 2008, Swafford was informed he was not hired for the position. By May 2008, the company had hired a 35-year-old applicant, who Swafford claims was not more qualified for the position.

The defendant is accused of intentionally committing unlawful employment practices and committing those practices with malice or reckless indifference for Swafford's civil rights.

The EEOC is asking the court to issue an injunction preventing DynMcDermott Petroleum from discriminating on the basis of age and disability and from retaliating against employees who make good-faith complaints of employment discrimination.

The plaintiff is also asking the court to order the defendant to institute and carry out policies, practices, and programs which provide equal employment opportunities for applicants regardless of age or disability.

On behalf of Swafford, the EEOC is seeking damages for back pay, interest, lost wages, front pay, pecuniary losses, out-of-pocket expenses, non-pecuniary losses including emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, punitive damages, interest and court costs.

Washington D.C. attorney P. David Lopez is General Counsel for EEOC. Houston attorney Connie K. Wilhite is attorney-in-charge.

Jury trial requested.

U.S. District Judge Thad Heartfield is assigned to the case.

Case No. 1:10cv00510

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