A Venetia man is suing a Texas-based drilling company, alleging his race and opposition to unlawful discrimination were the reasons he was terminated from his job.

Heath McDaniel filed a lawsuit July 24 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania against Patterson-Uti Drilling Company of Snyder, Texas, alleging violations of the Civil Rights Act.

According to the complaint, McDaniel, who is Caucasian, worked for the defendant from February 2002 to August 2014 with his last position being an assistant area manager. While McDaniel was employed, the defendant instituted a diversity initiative to promote African-American employees and McDaniel was responsible for meeting with those employees once a month to fast-track them into management positions, the suit says.

McDaniel alleges the initiative was discriminatory since Caucasian employees weren't given the same opportunity as African-American employees, who were promoted regardless of their performance or qualifications. The lawsuit state shortly after McDaniel complained about the diversity initiative, he was fired with the defendant alleging there was a conflict of interest because McDaniel was dating another employee.

However, McDaniel contends he was terminated because of race and in retaliation for his opposition to the diversity initiative.

The lawsuit states McDaniel didn't violate any conflict of interest policy and had no previous corrective actions prior to being fired. It also says numerous African-American employees kept their jobs despite having multiple corrective actions. Moreover, as proof that he was wrongfully terminated and retaliated against, McDaniel alleges Patterson-Uti management had met with his new employer to attempt to have him fired.

The plaintiff alleges the defendant's actions were taken in reckless disregard for his federally protected rights, and says he has endured emotional pain, mental anguish, inconvenience, humiliation and the loss of enjoyment of life.

McDaniel seeks reinstatement, lost wages and benefits, compensatory and punitive damages, attorney fees and court costs, and other relief deemed appropriate by the court. He is represented by attorneys Samuel J. Cordes and John E. Black, III of Samuel J. Cordes & Associates in Pittsburgh.

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania case number 2:15-cv-00961-JFC.

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