West Texas jury returns $1M sexual harassment verdict against oilfield services company

By David Yates | Jun 7, 2018

MIDLAND - A federal jury in Midland has returned a $1 million sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination verdict against Odessa-based oilfield services company Brinkerhoff Inspection, doing business as SMOB.

The $1 million verdict returned on June 6 by the jury of six men and two women includes punitive damages totaling $841,625, according to a press release.

Jurors heard testimony that plaintiff Sara Roberts was fired just four days into her employment after rejecting sexual advances from SMOB’s Personnel Manager Keith Demby.

Roberts had also disclosed that she was pregnant during the job interview process in response to questions by Demby. She was fired after informing the company that she had recently gotten married.

In reaching the verdict, jurors agreed unanimously that Roberts was a victim of sexual harassment, sex discrimination, and pregnancy discrimination.

“The jury is the conscience of the community. This diverse jury of men and women from all walks of life in the oilfield wanted to send a clear message,” said lead trial attorney Holly Williams of Williams Law Firm in Midland. “They can be proud of this verdict. Businesses across the energy sector should take note of this verdict and carefully review their practices.”

Brinkerhoff is an oilfield inspection company. At the time of Roberts’ employment, it was owned by former San Diego Chargers linebacker Bront Bird, a standout at Odessa’s Permian High School and Texas Tech University, along with Bird’s brother, Luke Bird, and former Tech quarterback Steven “Sticks” Sheffield.

The case is Sara L. Roberts v Brinkerhoff Inspection, Inc. dba SMOB in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Cause No. 7:16-cv-342.

Brian Carney of Carney Law Firm in Midland also represented Roberts at trial.

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