Houston company ordered to pay fired welder in discrimination suit

HOUSTON — A Houston federal jury has ordered National Oilwell Varco to pay more than $3 million to a former employee who says he was fired after complaining to company officials about racial discrimination he experienced from a supervisor. A court filing Monday says the two sides then reached a settlement for an undisclosed sum.

Manasseh Simmonds, who is black, claimed in his lawsuit that he was fired about a week after meeting with several managers in which he detailed a new foreman’s “racist and threatening statements” and “ongoing harassing treatment.”

Simmonds, who received merit raises each of the three years he worked for National Oilwell Varco before his termination in 2009, also alleged that, on the day before he was fired, co-workers offered to serve as witnesses for the “harassing and discriminating way” he’d been treated.

On Friday, jurors in U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore’s court ordered the oil field equipment manufacturer to pay $675,000 in back pay and benefits, $100,000 in emotional pain and suffering and $2.5 million in punitive damages.

On Monday, Simmonds’ legal team informed Gilmore in writing that the two sides had reached a settlement and would be filing paperwork to dismiss the case “in the near future.” The advisory did not reveal the size of the settlement.

Ed Sullivan, an employment lawyer with Oberti Sullivan who represented Simmonds, issued a short written statement: “The parties have resolved their differences and have no further comment to make about this case.”

National Oilwell Varco did not respond to a request for comment.

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