Racial Bias Claims Must Be Amended

     HOUSTON (CN) – National Oilwell Varco will face fewer claims that it tolerated racist behavior and employment discrimination aimed at black workers, a federal judge ruled.
     Eight black men, current and former employees, sued the Houston-based company in May 2012 for race discrimination and retaliation.
     The men described a range of workplace grievances, from repeated use of the word “nigger” to wrongful termination. All eight sought relief under the same causes of action.
     Lead plaintiff Junious Vital, and Herbert Heard, claimed that co-workers passed around pictures of their faces pasted over the bodies of monkeys.
     Plaintiff Billy Rose claimed, among other things, that an employee wore Confederate suspenders in the 1970’s.
     U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal granted the eight motions for partial dismissal filed by National Oilwell Varco, or NOV.
     “NOV sought dismissal because the complaint globally alleges that the ‘plaintiffs’ suffered acts of discrimination or mistreatment, although the facts pleaded in the complaint made clear that only some of the plaintiffs experienced some of the actions,” Rosenthal wrote.
     The oil and gas company said that certain claims lacked factual allegations to support them, while some claims that were supported by allegations did not involve “ultimate” employment decisions. For other claims, the statute of limitations had expired, according to the 21-page order.
     “The plaintiffs’ opposition appears to misperceive NOV’s motions,” Rosenthal wrote. “The plaintiffs essentially respond that each has alleged at least some factual basis that entitles him to relief. They also point out that each plaintiff suffered at least one ultimate employment decision. The plaintiffs cast the motions as improperly framed motion[s] to strike under Rule 12(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. NOV’s motions are, however, motions to dismiss based on limited grounds. NOV does not seek to dismiss discrimination claims that allege an ultimate employment decision. Nor does NOV seek dismissal of discrimination and/or retaliation claims to the extent that each claim is based on the treatment each plaintiff allegedly suffered.”
     Rosenthal included a chart in her ruling, listing the claims dismissed and claims not dismissed. She gave the men until May 24 to file an amended complaint.

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