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Hiring dispute brings second lawsuit against Shell

A decision by Shell Oil Co. to reject the hiring recommendation of its former head of U.S. security has led to another discrimination lawsuit against the company, a subsidiary of the international oil major Royal Dutch Shell.

Earlier this year Crockett Oaks III sued Shell for allegedly firing him after he objected to hiring preferences based on age and gender. Oaks and a selecition committee chose a 53-year-old man with a military background for a security advisor opening, but Shell executives allegedly blocked his hiring and directed Oaks to find a young, female candidate instead, according to court documents.

RELATED: Shell sues former head of security 

The case was settled —no details are available in the federal court records —but the man Oaks sought to hire sued Shell in June for age discrimination and retaliation after the energy giant revoked his job offer.

Michael G. Oliveri was offered —and accepted —the security advisor job in October 2016, according to Oliveri’s lawsuit filed recently in federal court in Houston. Oliveri, who was working for a contractor for Shell at the time, received a Shell employee number and a start date, which was ultimately delayed.

Two months later, Shell revoked Oliveri’s offer for the staff position that paid $114,000-a-year, plus bonus, according to court records.

Oliveri, who figured prominently in Oak’s discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and subsequent lawsuit against Shell, said in his lawsuit that he became “persona non grata” with the oil company.

Shell would not comment and has not responded to the complaint in court filings. Houston employment lawyer Mark Oberti who represented Oaks and who is now representing Oliveri also declined to comment.

RELATED: Older job seeker sues, saying ad for young applicants left him out

The details of how Oliveri was chosen by a selection committee and how Oaks’ boss in the Netherlands was “frustrated and unhappy” about the recommendation were detailed in Oaks’ lawsuit. So were the executive’s instructions to look for someone younger and female.

“The profile we discussed was ex-government agency, still early in career and (based on previous conversations) you know I would want you to look particularly at female candidates,” according to one email from Oaks’ boss in September, which was cited in Oaks’ complaint.

Oaks said in his lawsuit that he objected to the use of age and gender during a subsequent conference with human resource representatives and later with his boss.

Meanwhile, Shell officials put Oliveri’s job offer on hold. Oliveri said in his lawsuit that he was called to Shell’s office in Houston and quizzed about his military connections to Oaks. Oliveri is a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves and serves in the same reserve unit as Oaks, a lieutenant colonel.

One month later, on Dec. 6, Oaks was dismissed for failing to disclose that he and Oliveri were part of the same Army Reserve unit. In his lawsuit, however, Oaks said it was a “bogus cover” to fire him.
Oaks and Oliveri did not have a reporting relationship in the military and Oaks said he repeatedly disclosed their military connection to Shell officials.

Three days later, on Dec. 9, Shell revoked Oliveri’s job offer. He was not given a reason, according to his lawsuit, but was told he could re-apply when the position was re-posted. Oliveri reapplied earlier this year, but learned in April that he did not get the job.

The re-posting was a “sham designed to whitewash” age, sex discrimination or both, according to Oliveri’s lawsuit.

Shell also cancelled Oliveri’s $80,000 a year contract job as an event security adviser, effective at the end of the year, according to the lawsuit. Oliveri is seeking the wages he would have earned at Shell, attorney fees and other damages.


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One Comment

  1. exmotiva says:

    most times when the job is “posted” as per the company procedure, the desired candidate is already known, so to discourage someone with stronger credentials or knowledge from applying, the job description most times will be for off hours, weekends etc. and when the desired person gets the position, everything is changed to suit such person. after the 3rd time this happened to me I finally saw how this worked. It’s just business as usual at the swell oil co.