A Dallas woman filed suit against Halliburton last week claiming she was fired after her supervisors learned she was pregnant. In court documents filed on December, 21, Lynda Darden alleges she was fired in the summer of 2009 when "she was sexually discriminated against and terminated as a result of her pregnancy." Per the court docs, which indicate Darden was hired in Colorado and then transferred to Texas:
"In 2008, she was transferred to Texas and worked as an administrative associate in the dispatch office at the Alvarado Camp. Although a good, dedicated and productive employee, she was terminated on June 3, 2009, when she apparently violated the company's policy against procreation."
If you detect a hint of snark in that wording, you're picking up what Darden's attorney, Todd Kelly, is putting down: He's become high-profile in recent years for suing the energy contractor.
The Houston-based attorney presently represents Jamie Leigh Jones, the woman who sued former Halliburton subsidiary KBR alleging that she was gang-raped in 2005 by one known and several unknown co-workers and locked in a shipping container to prevent her from reporting the crime. Her case caused Al Franken to sponsor a defense bill amendment stipulating that defense contractors can't force people not to sue them if they get raped on the job. Kelly also represents several other women with sexual assault and/or harassment cases against KBR and Halliburton.
Kelly tells Unfair Park that Halliburton is a less-than-ideal place to work for women: "I don't believe that Halliburton treats its women as they should." He says Darden told her supervisors she was pregnant even though she "had already been told by co-workers that she would be fired if she reported her pregnancy."
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According to Kelly, that was the general office scuttlebutt: Get pregnant, get fired. In court documents, Darden says she first told her supervisor of her pregnancy in March 2009 and was told on June 3, 2009, that she was losing her job as part of a general lay-off, but Darden says she was the only person let go at the time:
To her knowledge, Lynda was the only employee "laid off" in her area even though there were five employees who had less experience in that position than she did. None of those employees was pregnant. Thus, the company retained employees in the same or similar positions with less qualifications who were not in the protected class. The Defendant's proferred reason for termination was a pretext for discriminatory purpose.
For a brief time, Kelly says Unfair Park, his client's job was even advertised on the Internet after she was laid off, though he says Halliburton "took it off pretty quickly." Darden is seeking damages for back pay and "front pay in lieu of reinstatement, which would not be feasible under the circumstances."
Read Darden's complaint in full below.
Darden v. Halliburton