Shell Oil Faces Sexual Harassment Claims

Ciara Newton worked at Shell as a refinery process operator. She was hired in January 2016. As an employee at Shell Oil’s refinery in Martinez, she alleges that she experienced sex-based harassment, sex discrimination and a failure on the company’s part to take appropriate action to prevent both discrimination and harassment.

In the complaint, the former Shell employee alleges that she experienced all of the above at the hands of both supervisors and co-workers on the job – all because of her gender.

In the lawsuit, Newton describes a male-dominated work setting where co-workers made negative and disparaging comments about women in the workplace and in which supervisors undermined Newton instead of supporting her. In fact, Newton alleges that supervisors on the job at Shell Oil actively complained about women in the workplace.

Some instances of sex-based discrimination and harassment that Newton allegedly suffered include:

  • Finding a sticker on her desk that read, “If your (vagina) hurts, just stay home.”
  • A supervisor stating that women do not last long in “his department.”
  • A failure to receive a response after reporting the situation/s to Human Resources.

Newton is also suing Shell for wrongful termination. She alleges that the company retaliated against her because she complained about the sexual harassment and discrimination on the job. She feels the retaliation may have also been partly in response to her desire to properly document and contain a sulfuric acid spill at the refinery. When she attempted to do so, a supervisor told her to stop so he and others would not get “in trouble” for not reporting it.

In September 2015, Shell terminated Newton stating that she had unsatisfactory performance during her probationary period. This was only six days after a supervisor gave her a positive progress report and encouraged her to continue forward in her job at the company.

If you have experienced sexual harassment or discrimination in the workplace, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik.