Discrimination |
September 10, 2019

Buzzfeed Covers Discrimination Case Won by Sonya Smallets

A recent Buzzfeed News article credits Minnis & Smallets attorney Sonya Smallets for her efforts in litigating a workplace sexual discrimination case.  

Ms. Smallets represented plaintiff Ciara Newton in her lawsuit against the Shell Martinez refinery. In the lawsuit, Ms. Newton alleged that she was subjected to harassment because of her gender during her employment at the refinery and that the refinery’s employees failed to take legally required steps to prevent such harassment. 

Ms. Newton testified that the harassment started as soon as she began training, where her coworkers would intimidate her and make her feel unwelcome. The situation escalated in the following months as the harassment intensified. Ms. Newton faced continuous resistance from her coworkers, culminating in a sticker being placed on her desk that clearly conveyed the message that women did not belong at the refinery.

The jury awarded Ms. Newton $475,000 to compensate her for the emotional distress she experienced as a result of the harassment and Shell’s failure to take appropriate steps to prevent it.

Ms. Newton and Ms. Smallets’s perseverance against Shell stands as a landmark. According to research conducted by Buzzfeed, out of 25 lawsuits filed against US oil companies in the past 5 years, this was the first in which an employee prevailed on a sexual harassment claim.  

When employees face discrimination or harassment of any kind, it may be viable to take legal action alongside an employment attorney. Minnis & Smallets has extensive experience representing clients in workplace discrimination cases similar to Ms. Newton’s. If you are facing unlawful discrimination, contact us to schedule a consultation.