BATON ROUGE — A former employee for Diamond Offshore says the oil drilling company showed racial favoritism during tough economic times.
Louisiana resident Raymond Pickney filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana on July 29, accusing Diamond Offshore of demonstrating a pattern of transferring white employees when a contract ends, but firing the black workers.
Pickney worked as a safety representative for nearly 20 years before being terminated in 2016.
The complaint states that Diamond Offshore, who contracts regularly with companies like Shell, Hess and Chevron, has the choice whether to reassign or terminate safety representatives once a contract ends. Pickney, who attached a spreadsheet to complaint, alleges every black safety representative was fired at the end of a vessel's contract, rather than reassigned to another vessel, like their white counterparts.
Diamond Offshore contracts regularly with companies like Shell, Hess and Chevron.
“In 2015-16, Diamond Offshore had just over ninety safety representatives," the complaint states. "Six of them were black; the rest were almost all white. Among those representatives there was a clear pattern: every single time the safety representative was black, Diamond Offshore terminated them.".
Pickney claims he had a clean disciplinary record before Diamond Offshore fired him in 2016.
Pickney says his supervisors told him everyone was subject to layoffs and they would be evaluated according to their years of service, the number of years in their current position and their performance.
“But safety representatives were not reassigned or terminated according to their service, tenure, and performance," the complaint states. "Instead, they were reassigned or terminated according to their race."
The suit also claims Diamond Offshore provided black safety representatives with unfavorable assignments, by sending them to ships that they knew would be scrapped in the near future.
Pickney is seeking a jury trial and compensatory damages.