Man Alleges Fracking Company Considered Him Unmasculine

PITTSBURGH — A West Virginia man filed a federal lawsuit against a fracking company, alleging his co-workers and supervisors verbally, physically and sexually harassed him because they did not believe he was masculine enough.

George Keaton, of Clendenin, named two supervisors and Keane Group Inc., a Texas company, as defendants in the case filed in U.S. Western District Court of Pennsylvania in Pittsburgh. Keaton was employed through Keane’s Mount Pleasant, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, office, but traveled with a crew of men as an equipment operator for the company starting in October 2017.

From the time he started through February 2018, when he quit, Keaton was subjected to harassment his lawyer called “egregious” and “well-below all measures of civility.”

“Keaton was stripped of his dignity and threatened repeatedly with violence by his co-workers and superiors at Keane,” attorney Nicholas Pahuta wrote. “When he finally reached out to Keane administrators, he was told that he was lucky to still have a job.”

“Explicitly,” Pahuta wrote, “he was singled out for this treatment because his co-workers did not think that he lived up their ideals of masculinity.”

The suit alleged two supervisors and other crew members regularly used profanity and slurs toward him, threatened him with physical violence and repeatedly tried to punch him in the genitals. On one instance, a supervisor exposed his genitals to Keaton and tried to make him touch them, Pahuta wrote. That same man also allegedly threatened to sexually assault Keaton, according to the suit.

Because the men were required to travel together, staying in the same hotel after working 15-hour days, Keaton was unable to get away from the harassment and began to suffer from depression, the suit alleged.

When he tried to report the harassment to the Mount Pleasant office, Keaton’s calls went unreturned, the suit stated. He eventually made a report to the corporate office and after a meeting with human resources, was told that he was fortunate to have a job, Pahuta alleged.

While Keaton was transferred to another crew, that forced him to travel farther and be away from home more often, and he ultimately felt forced to quit his job in February 2018, Pahuta said.

The multi-count suit makes several allegations, including hostile work environment, retaliation, harassment, assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

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