A Houston federal jury cleared equipment supplier National Oilwell Varco of wrongdoing on Thursday in an employment discrimination lawsuit filed by eight African Americans who sought $120 million in damages.
The jury found the company committed no wrongdoing after hearing 12 days of testimony in the trial before Judge Lee H. Rosenthal in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston-based NOV’s legal team said.
The lawsuit was brought by seven former NOV employees and one current employee.
The plaintiffs claimed that they were subjected to racial discrimination, a hostile work environment and retaliation and also alleged that non-African-Americans received raises and promotions that they were denied.
The lawsuit also claimed that racial slurs were frequently used in the workplace.
The jury found that NOV had not violated plaintiffs’ rights after the company argued there were several non-discriminatory reasons some of the workers did not receive promotions, were not asked to return to their jobs after taking unauthorized leave or were fired for cause.
The plaintiffs included former NOV employees Junious Vital, DeWarren Bellard, Damon Darby, Herbert Heard, Edward Jiles, Jerome Johnson, David Lane and current employee Billy Rose0.
They were represented by civil rights lawyer Angela M. Alioto of San Francisco’s Law Offices of Mayor Joseph L. Alioto and Angela Alioto.
NOV’s trial team was led by special trial counsel John Zavitsanos of Houston’s Ahmad, Zavitsanos, Anaipakos, Alavi & Mensing P.C.
“NOV always has promoted a diverse workplace where discrimination isn’t tolerated. This was nothing more than an attempt by a discrimination law firm to pull out a playbook that has worked in other cases in hopes of cashing in,” Zavitsanos said.
Also representing NOV were attorneys Monique Gougisha Doucette and Christopher E. Moore of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart’s New Orleans office.
Assisting on the case was law school graduate Nathan Campbell, who is not yet licensed to practice law.
The case is Vital, et al. v. National Oilwell Varco, No. 4:12-cv-01357.