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Shell’s attempt to kill damaging US litigation involving  senior managers in Shell Corporate Security, including Spymaster James W.D. Hall

Shell’s attempt to kill damaging US litigation involving senior managers in Shell Corporate Security, including Spymaster James W.D. Hall

By John Donovan

I have provided links (1) (2) to the latest legal submissions (including a motion to dismiss) made by Shell in defence of a discrimination claim by Mr Walied Shater.

He is the third senior member of Shell Corporate Security who has sued Shell Oil Company alleging discrimination by the head of Shell Corporate Security, Mr James W.D. Hall. 

The new submissions contain references by Shell to the two clearly related cases, which Shell argue are unrelated, although they all involve discrimination allegations on similar grounds against the same individual, Mr Hall. In other words, bonafide similar fact evidence.

Perhaps Shell is concerned that others are lining up with a view to suing Shell on similar grounds? Shell has already settled the previous claims and does not want to encourage more actions. 

Information in the legal submissions filed by Shell on 30 December 2021 making references to the earlier cases. 

Apparently recognizing the lack of credible evidence supporting his failure-to-promote claim, Shater invites the Court to shift its focus from the promotion in question to the “big picture” (i.e., two unrelated lawsuits filed against Shell) and to statistics (i.e., the demographics of Shell’s Corporate Security group). Neither the “big picture” nor the “statistics” advanced by Shater create a genuine issue of material fact for the jury to decide concerning Shell’s selection of Hunt over Shater for the RSM – Americas position.

a. The “big picture” fails to establish pretext.

Shater highlights two unrelated lawsuits filed against Shell, contending that they somehow underscore his allegations of discrimination.23 Although these lawsuits involved Shell’s Corporate Security group, importantly, they were filed by two different individuals, they concerned claims that are different than the claims asserted here, and they concerned circumstances that are different than the circumstances before this Court. These lawsuits therefore have no legal bearing on whether the Shell interview panel consisting of Hall, Blakely, and Maynor failed to promote Shater to the RSM – Americas position because of his race or national origin.

Notwithstanding, Shater contends that “the Fifth Circuit encourage[s] courts to focus on the ‘big picture’ in determining whether there is sufficient evidence of pretext to send a case to a jury,”24 citing Donaldson v. CDB Inc., 335 Fed. App’x. 494, 504 (5th Cir. 2009) and Starnes v. Wallace, 849 F.3d 627, 635 (5th Cir. 2017). Both Donaldson and Starnes are favorable to Shell, not Shater, since neither case encourages courts to consider unrelated lawsuits involving different plaintiffs and different claims in determining whether discrimination occurred in the case before the court. Also, in stark contrast to Shater’s contention, both cases encourage courts to focus on the “big picture” constructed by evidence that is actually before the courts. See, e.g., Donaldson, 335 Fed. App’x. at 504–05; Starnes, 849 F.3d at 635. Here, the evidence that is actually before this Court constructs an all-too-common “big picture” by an individual who filed suit because he is frustrated by his failure to secure a promotion through a fair and legitimate interview process, not because of his race or national origin.

Related background information extracted from Pages 1, 2, 3 and 4 of this 41-page submission to the court.

3. In 2017, Shater applied for the position of Regional Security Manager (“RSM”) – Americas in Houston, Texas. He was amply qualified for the job – indeed, earlier in the year, his manager had identified this exact job position as one he was a “strong contender” for if and when it opened up (Ex. 5). The decision-maker for the promotion, Shell’s Vice President of Corporate Security, James Hall (“Hall”), is a white person of British national origin living in The Hague, Netherlands. Earlier in 2017, Hall’s overt illegal discrimination caused an embarrassing retaliation lawsuit to be filed against Shell in Houston, Texas, by Crockett Oaks (“Oaks”), an African-American employee who had previously been the RSM – Americas. See Crockett Oaks III v. Shell Oil Company, Case No. 4:17-cv-00979, Docket Entry No. 1 (S.D. Tex. 2017). Specifically, Hall had fired Oaks – a Former FBI Special Agent – in retaliation for Oaks’s refusal to accede to Hall’s illegal desire to make hiring decisions based on age and sex, which Hall had actually put in writing to Oaks, stating: “[l]et’s indeed look to backfill Bob’s role with some younger external talent.” (Ex. 9-2) (bold added).

4. After that personally bruising and embarrassing experience with Oaks, an African-American who had stood up to him, Hall wanted a malleable white male employee of British national origin, like himself, for the role. So, based on race and national origin, Shell and Hall passed over the supremely qualified non-white, non-British Shater, and selected Wayne Hunt (“Hunt”), a clearly less qualified white male of British national origin also living in The Hague, Netherlands, and moved Hunt to Houston, Texas, to assume the position of RSM – Americas that became open after Hall fired Oaks.

5. Hall’s discriminatory decision is part of a pattern of race and national origin discrimination with Shell’s Corporate Security Department. Since joining Shell, Shater has been considered and rejected for the following five Job Group 1 senior positions with the Corporate Security Department:

a. RSM – Americas.

b. RSM – Middle East & North Africa.

c. RSM – Europe, Commonwealth of Independent States and Africa.

d. Strategy and Assurance Manager.

e. General Manager, Security Nigeria. Case 4:20-cv-01465 Document 1 Filed on 04/24/20 in TXSD Page 2 of 41 3 6.

Each of these five roles were awarded to white males of British national origin who had less experience than Shater in the private and or public sector. This is no accident: Shell’s Corporate Security Leadership Team contains zero diversity, and is made up of all white British males with the exception of a white German male.

7. Shater is a victim of Hall’s and Shell’s illegal discrimination. Accordingly, Shater brings this race and national origin discrimination case against Shell under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e.

Information extracted from Pages 4 and 5 of the same legal document. 

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

A. Shater’s Background In The U.S. Secret Service And At ConocoPhillips 1

3. Shater is a non-white person of Arab/Middle Eastern (Egyptian and Sudanese) race and national origin. Shater has been a security professional for over 25 years in the public and private sectors. In 1993, Shater obtained a Master of Arts Degree from Rutgers University. In 1995 he went to work as a Special Agent for the U.S. Secret Service (USSS). (Ex. 1). In 2000, Shater was assigned to the Presidential Protective Division (“PPD”) as a Special Agent at the White House. Some of his duties and accomplishments as a Special Agent for the USSS were:

a. Approximately 5 years assigned to the White House on the elite Presidential Protective Division (less than 5% of all USSS agents serve on PPD). Shater provided protective detail for Presidents Bush and Clinton and the First Ladies.

b. Designated supervisory lead advance agent on PPD.

c. Lead agent for more presidential visits than any agent since January 2001, including:

i. One of 6 USSS agents selected to conduct secret Thanksgiving 2003 White House presidential visit to Iraq; and

ii. 2003 White House presidential visit to Daytona 500; Shater was the lead USSS agent for the trip, accountable for over 400 federal, state, local and military personnel.

iii. Served in a senior leadership position on PPD as a #1 Whip, responsible for orchestrating protective assets and movements, including emergency relocation of U.S. president while at the White House.

d. Served as detailee to Department of Homeland Security (DHS), including DHS Energy Infrastructure Department (main U.S. government agency interfacing with U.S. oil sector).

e. Case agent detailee to FBI on PENTTBOMB investigation following 9/11 attacks; including undercover agent targeting suspected al-Qaeda terrorists (the largest criminal inquiry in the FBI’s history).

14. In 2007, Shater left the Secret Service and accepted employment with ConocoPhillips as a Regional Security Director for Middle East and North Africa Business Unit (Ex. 1).

B. Shater’s Employment At Shell, And Consistently Outstanding Performance Reviews

15. In August 2013, Shater began working for Shell Expatriate Employment US Inc. and Shell Oil Company (jointly “Shell”) as a Country Security Manager (“CSM”). Shell is a multinational Company ranked number 3 on the 2019 Fortune 500 List, with recently reported annual revenues of approximately $400 billion, and profits of $23 billion https://fortune.com/global500/2019/royal-dutch-shell/

EXTRACTS END

23-main 30 Dec 2021 (15 pages) Filed 30 Dec 2021: DEFENDANT SHELL OIL COMPANY’S REPLY IN SUPPORT OF ITS MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Doc 23-1 30 Dec 2021 (8 Pages) Filed 30 Dec 2021: DEFENDANT’S OBJECTIONS AND ANSWERS TO PLAINTIFF’S FIRST SET OF INTERROGATORIES

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