SLB not liable in sexual harassment case

Oilfield services giant SLB was not found liable for sexual harassment which a former female employee claimed she suffered during work on drilling rigs.

The plaintiff, Jessica Cheatham, is a former Schlumberger engineer who worked on oil rigs in various US states.

She was employed by Schlumberger as a field engineer on its Texas oil rigs starting in September 2017. She claimed that she was harassed early in her employment by a male colleague who used sexually explicit terms in demonstrating how to use tools and made other sexually suggestive remarks. According to her, reporting these acts to HR did nothing.

Cheatham further claimed that she reported gender discrimination in September 2019 to a supervisor but was told that she was banned from working on many of the rigs serviced by Schlumberger.

Finally, the plaintiff claimed that Schlumberger officials pressured Cheatham to move to Alaska and accept a job at a lower pay grade which she refused and left the company in January 2020.

The trial started on July 17 in the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Houston, with Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt presiding.

The trial was wrapped up quickly as the final words and jury decision were given on Wednesday, July 26.

A spokesperson for Sanford Heisler Sharp, the law firm representing the plaintiff, told Splash that after several hours of deliberations, the jury decided to rule in favour of SLB.

“While we are, of course, disappointed by the decision, we want to thank all members of the jury for their time and deliberations. We continue to believe that Ms Cheatham experienced gender discrimination, harassment, and retaliation during her time at Schlumberger and that the company should have been held responsible for its failure to properly investigate and prevent these harms,” Michael Palmer, partner at Sanford Heisler Sharp and counsel for Jessica Cheatham, said.

“But we are grateful that after years of litigation, Ms Cheatham had the opportunity to tell her story. We hope that despite this verdict, other women who experience discrimination at work will continue to bravely come forward, just like Ms Cheatham did,” he added.

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