Posted June 23rd, 2020.
By Karen Shuey
Shillington woman has filed a $100 million federal class-action lawsuit against one of the world’s largest oilfield services companies, alleging a longstanding pattern of sexual harassment and gender discrimination.
Sara Saidman alleges Schlumberger Technology Corp. knowingly permits women who work on oil rigs to be sexually harassed, assaulted and discriminated against by their male colleagues, according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. Southern District Court in Houston.
Saidman alleges Schlumberger makes it nearly impossible for women who have been sexually harassed to find recourse.
She alleges the company’s own written harassment policy requires women who have been harassed to first “politely” confront the harasser themselves before seeking assistance from management.
The lawsuit chronicles how Schlumberger ignores sexual harassment complaints entirely, dismisses them as a joke or retaliates against the victim.
The company has not filed a response to the lawsuit and did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.
Attorney Michael Palmer of Sanford Heisler Sharp, the firm representing Saidman in the lawsuit, said she filed the court action to put Schlumberger on notice that sexual harassment and gender discrimination will no longer be buried from public view.
Palmer pointed out that men dominate the workforce on oil rigs. He said women make up only 5% of the Schlumberger employees on the hundreds of oil rigs to which the company provides services.
The lawsuit details how women on oil rigs are sexually harassed, objectified, threatened and labeled as undeserving of equal pay by their male colleagues. It also states that Schlumberger requires women to share living quarters and even a bedroom with multiple men who work with them — often the same men who harass and denigrate them on a daily basis.
Saidman was 21 when she began working for Schlumberger as a field engineer in May 2016.
In the lawsuit, Saidman alleges she reached her breaking point when one of her male colleagues with whom she was forced to share living quarters encouraged other men to break into her bedroom while she was sleeping and ignore her if she resisted their sexual advances.
The lawsuit also alleges that she reported these comments to a human resources representative who told her she didn’t know how to take a joke.
Saidman said she was repeatedly advised against reporting her experiences and told to learn to deal with it because seeking redress from the company would be bad for her career. The lawsuit alleges these warnings came to fruition when she was fired in May 2017 after she continued to complain about sexual harassment and gender discrimination.
“When Ms. Saidman reported egregious examples of sexual harassment and gender discrimination to Schlumberger, she was targeted by the company,” said Sanford Heisler Sharp attorney Carolin Guentert. “This lawsuit is the only means Ms. Saidman has to remedy the company’s past wrongs and ensure that women who work on oil rigs are safe from harassment and discrimination.”