HOUSTON (CN) – Apache Corp., an energy exploration firm, claims the New York City Comptroller and the city Teachers, Firefighters and Police Retirement Systems are unreasonably demanding that it prohibit sexual orientation and gender discrimination in its employee handbook and proxy statements, though Apache already has an equal opportunity employment policy.
Apache claims the defendant shareholders tried to make the SEC enforce their wishes, and when the SEC refused, threatened litigation.
Apache says that reprinting its proxy material will cost “several hundred thousand dollars,” and would be pointless, since it already has an equal opportunity employment policy.
It claims the defendants asked the SEC to enforce their demands, which “include a prohibition against discrimination based on sexual discrimination in its employee policy statement.”
Apache’s federal complaint continues: “The NYC Comptroller’s Proposal, which also concerns gender identity, appears to be a cookie-cutter proposal sent to dozens of companies every year. The NYC Comptroller’s Proposal to Apache, however, goes far beyond matters of employment discrimination policies; instead, it asks Apache to take a number of actions with respect to Apache’s ordinary business. For example, the Proposal seeks to impose restrictions on such ordinary business matters as Apache’s ‘allocation of employee benefits,’ ‘corporate advertising policy,’ ‘corporate advertising and marketing policy,’ ‘sale of goods and services,’ and ‘corporate charitable contributions.'”
Enough is enough, Apache says: “Apache Already Has An ‘Equal Employment Opportunity Policy.’ … (T)he NYC Comptroller did not offer any evidence – or even any suggestion – that Apache has discriminated against any potential or actual employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or on any other basis, for that matter. The NYC Comptroller did not suggest that Apache has discriminated against anyone at any time for any reasons.”
Apache says it sought, and received from the SEC, a “No Action” letter regarding its equal employment opportunity policy. Nonetheless, Apache says, “On April 4, 2008, the NYC Comptroller issued a press release saying that ‘the New York city Pension Funds and his office are now exploring legal options such as appealing the SEC Staff decision to the full Commission and/or filing a lawsuit against Apache.'” Apache says this threat of litigation was repeated in an April 7 article in “Gay City News.” On that day, Apache says, “a lawyer representing the NYC Pension Funds and the NYC Comptroller called Apache and indicated that they intended to file a lawsuit against Apache later this week.”
Represented by Susman Godfrey, Apache seeks declaratory judgment.