PITTSBURGH - A Vanderbilt resident is suing his former employer for allegedly violating his civil rights when terminating him and then refusing to rehire him.
Douglas Lockhart filed a lawsuit June 22 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania against Rice Energy Inc., alleging retaliation.
According to the complaint, both Douglas Lockhart and his wife Kristin were working as security guards at different shale drilling sites of the defendant in 2013. In April of that year, a security guard by the name of Jim Beers told Kristin that one of the defendant's managers thought she posed a liability because she was pregnant and thus would be fired.
The suit states that upon being fired, Kristin filed a Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charge against Rice Energy claiming it discriminated against her due to her pregnancy. Douglas, in addition to all of the constable security guards working for the defendant, was also laid off four months later.
Douglas claims he was contacted by another laid off security guard in on Sept. 24, 2013, who said the defendant wanted to hire all of the guards back except for Beers. At a meeting the following day, the Lockharts learned that the previous lay off was only done as a way to get rid of Beers and that they would be rehired after the weekend, they claim.
The suit explains that Kristin went to the EEOC office after the meeting and withdrew the discrimination charge. Douglas contends that after the rehiring meeting took place, the defendant's manager learned that Kristin filed the charge and the following day Douglas was told that he and his wife were no longer going to be rehired because a fellow constable guard recently drove a vehicle into a farmer's field and thus the defendant decided to not rehire any constables because of this alleged careless act. Douglas says the other constable guards denied driving into a farmer's field and were ultimately rehired.
Douglas asserts that the defendant violated the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1991 by intentionally and with malice retaliating against him because his wife filed a pregnancy discrimination charge.
The plaintiff seeks back pay and lost employment benefits; compensatory and punitive damages; an award for humiliation and emotional distress; attorney fees and court costs; and other relief deemed appropriate by the court.
The plaintiff is represented by attorney John Newborg in Pittsburgh.
U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania case number 2:15-cv-00818-MBC.