Pipeline firms operating in NM agree to $1.75M settlement - Albuquerque Journal

Pipeline firms operating in NM agree to $1.75M settlement

Three subsidiaries of Texas-based Plains All American Pipeline and Oklahoma-based Copperhead Pipeline and Construction Inc. have agreed to a $1.75 million settlement with more than a dozen former employees for workplace harassment in New Mexico.

The settlement was announced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Aug. 8, following allegations that the companies subjected the former employees – Jason Copley, Da’Vonta Copley, Albertico Gutierrez Rubio, Adrian Quezada, Shawn Cotton, and Joshua Garcia plus 10 others whose names weren’t listed – to sexual, ethnic and racial harassment at worksites in the state. The former employees were also fired for filing a complaint with EEOC regarding the harassment, according to the suit, which was initially filed in 2019.

Three subsidiaries of Plains All American Pipeline – including Plains Pipeline L.P., Plains All American GP LLC and Plains Marketing L.P. – were listed in the complaint as a joint employer alongside Copperhead Pipeline and Construction Inc.

In a statement to the Journal, Plains All American Pipeline – which has operations in southeastern New Mexico – distanced itself from Copperhead, and said it agreed with the outcome of the settlement with EEOC and the former employees of the joint companies.

“Our core values include treating people with fairness and respect and acting with the highest levels of honesty, ethics, and integrity,” a spokesperson for Plains said. “The claimants were employed by Copperhead Pipeline and Construction, Inc., in 2017 and Plains denies that it was their ‘joint employer;’ however, we do not condone the conduct alleged in this complaint. Furthermore, our interests are aligned with the EEOC in ensuring that our employees fully understand that harassment and retaliation are not tolerated at Plains.”

Calls to Copperhead’s listed number went unreturned, with the company’s phone service no longer available.

Attached to the settlement was a consent decree that requires both companies to review and update their discrimination and retaliation policies. Both companies will also discipline their supervisors and manager responsible for the retaliatory conduct, according to the decree.

The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas will enforce the terms of the decree for at least three years.

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