Allegations of Sexual Harassment Raised by Female Oilfield Workers: An Exposé

**Lawsuit Reveals Plight of Women in America’s Oil Fields**

A lawsuit against the largest provider of drilling services, set for trial in July, is shedding light on the challenges faced by women working in America’s oil fields. Jessica Cheatham, a former engineer for Schlumberger Ltd. (now known as SLB), is seeking more than $1 million in damages for the company’s alleged failure to protect her from sexual harassment and the subsequent adverse effect on her career. Sworn affidavits provided by other women who worked at SLB further expose instances of abuse and discrimination in the male-dominated industry.

**Allegations of Abuse**

Michelle Underwood, a fluids engineer, stated in her affidavit that a male colleague reached into her coveralls and groped her. Trainee Eugenia Galan reported instances of someone trying to enter her company apartment in the middle of the night. Field engineer Gianna Credaroli claimed that she was denied restroom access and had to change her feminine hygiene product in an exposed ditch. Furthermore, Credaroli stated that the company responded to her complaints by sending her to increasingly dangerous locations, prompting her to quit out of fear for her safety.

**The Potential Landmark Case**

If the lawsuit proceeds to trial on July 17, it has the potential to be a landmark case, bringing to light the working conditions women face in an industry that struggles to attract and retain female talent. Although sexual discrimination in the male-dominated oil sector is not uncommon, companies facing such lawsuits often opt to settle rather than face a trial.

SLB has already reached a financial settlement with Sara Saidman, another former employee who initiated the lawsuit that Cheatham later joined. Cheatham’s decision not to pursue class-action status stems from strategic reasons, as her legal team explained.

**Company Statement and Abuse Allegations**

In response to the allegations, SLB provided a statement indicating their commitment to fostering a harassment and discrimination-free workplace. They asserted that complaints are taken seriously, thoroughly investigated, and appropriately addressed.

Cheatham, who worked for SLB from 2017 to 2020, claimed that she faced sexually explicit comments and accused the company’s human resources department of colluding with her harassers to derail her career. Her complaints were allegedly inadequately investigated, and SLB stopped assigning her to rigs, hindering her professional advancement. Eventually, the company offered her a demotion. Experts point out that the prevalence of such behavior in the oil and gas industry is reminiscent of the 1970s.

**Challenges Faced by Women in the Industry**

Regardless of whether Cheatham’s allegations are heard by a jury, the case raises questions about SLB’s ability to achieve its goal of increasing female representation. While the company does not disclose the number of women in its field workforce, it aims to have a 30% female workforce by 2030, surpassing the global industry average of 22%.

SLB has acknowledged the difficulties faced by its female employees. According to an internal survey conducted in 2021, over half of the company’s female staff experienced barriers to working in the field due to a lack of facilities. SLB’s former vice president of human resources, Gavin Rennick, admitted that despite efforts to improve diversity, tangible results have yet to be seen.

Jane Stevenson, who leads the board and executive succession advisory practice at Korn Ferry, highlights two key issues for women in the oil field: sexual harassment and practical challenges related to equipment and resources. She emphasizes the need for change and improvement in the industry.

**Continued Fight for Inclusion**

Despite the challenges she faced, Cheatham remains determined to fight for her rightful place in the industry. She asserts that women belong in the oil field and refuses to let Schlumberger strip that away from her.

In conclusion, the upcoming trial against SLB provides a unique opportunity to expose the plight of women working in America’s oil fields. The allegations of abuse and discrimination within the company, along with the broader challenges faced by women in the industry, highlight the urgency for change and the need to create a more inclusive and supportive work environment.

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