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Former Royal Dutch Shell Oil Employee Sues for National Origin, Race Discrimination

 

A former employee of Royal Dutch Shell Oil, who had worked with the company for more than 20 years, filed a lawsuit Dec. 10, 2018 in Harris County, Texas District Court, alleging he was discriminated against because of his national origin, which the multinational corporation wrongly perceived as Indian.

Sri Raghunatha Venkatesawra Babu Bangauru, a resident of Houston, Texas, who had renounced his Indian citizenship and holds a U.K. passport, alleged in his lawsuit that the company has an “ugly trend, growing more apparent during the tightening at Shell, in which white or non-Indian workers are favored by the company.”

Employees also spoke freely about Indians “over-running” the company and “not staying where they belong,” the lawsuit alleged. Bangauru’s colleagues discussed, in his presence, that there were too many Indian employees competing for jobs at Shell and that the company should limit them from doing so, the suit added.

Employees in the company freely acknowledged that “If you are not Dutch, you are not much,” claimed Bangauru in his lawsuit. He is seeking $1 million in damages.

Bangauru was recruited by Royal Dutch Shell Oil in 1997 while he was working on his Master’s degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He joined the company as a reservoir engineer, based in the Netherlands, and grew into senior roles during his two-decade career with the corporation.

Bangauru renounced his Indian citizenship in 2014 and informed the company that he only held U.K. citizenship. He was nevertheless told in 2015 by his boss to seek jobs in India, though he has no ties to the country, and his extensive skill set did not match available jobs there.

His boss, according to the lawsuit, started to speak in “segregationist terms,” alleged Bangauru. The boss allegedly said there was pressure at Shell not to hire more Indians, and that Shell intends to require Indians to be segregated in India so that “they can be kept from moving through the broader group of Shell companies.”

His boss allegedly refused to consider Bangauru as a U.K. citizen. “This constitutes discrimination based on national origin and race,” stated Bangauru in his lawsuit.

In January 2016, Bangauru was informed by Royal Dutch Shell Oil that it intended to repatriate him to India, where he has no home and no citizenship. He was then sent to Brunei, where he served until November 2016.

On Dec. 9, 2016, Bangauru was abruptly given a 90-day notice of termination without cause, ending his 20-year career with the company.

After Bangauru complained about his severance package, the company reduced it by $28,000. It also shortened his notice period to 21 days, the suit claimed.

Bangauru states that the abrupt termination has dampened his prospects for future employment, contributed to a substantial loss in income, caused him embarrassment and humiliation with his co-workers, and damaged his credibility. He is seeking a jury trial.

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