Thread regarding Noble Energy Inc. layoffs

Job growth slowing in oil and gas. If you have your nest egg, please retire and give others a chance. Don't be so greedy!

"The jobs in the Permian are going to go first, but at some point that's going to temper hiring here," said Parker Harvey, an economist at Workforce Solutions. "How many additional lawyers, accountants and engineers do you really need (in Houston) when oil is in such a tight range?"

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Post ID: @OP+124LnWAS

10 replies (most recent on top)

This is a bull post. Older workers have just as much right to work as younger workers.

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Post ID: @puxw+124LnWAS

@124LnWAS-8vsy, I’m not defending Noble. They are guilty of age discrimination and much more. I’m merely stating the obvious: Age discrimination IS an industry wide problem, but proving it, at least to the regulators, is virtually impossible. In that light, we all have to confront the truth. Rely on Noble for your employment security and you'll be a victim. Similarly, rely on ANY oil company for employment security and you'll be a victim. We all have to be proactive and responsible for our own future.

As for the EEOC issue, just because an investigation is underway doesn't mean Noble will be penalized. Far from it. During my career I've seen several oil companies subjected to similar scrutiny and enforcement never happens. You may not be aware of it, but age discrimination cases occur in our business a lot. The problem is always proving beyond a reasonable doubt that discrimination has occurred. It’s too easy to mask, especially when the perpetrators, like Noble, are actively taking measures to do so.

Think about it. Over the last few years Noble laid off plenty of younger people too. HR and Noble lawyers will incorporate those numbers into the statistics to muddy the water. They’ll argue any apparent age weighting was inadvertent, the result of a higher percentage of older employees in the pre-layoff workforce or justified by poor individual job performance. They’ll backup their claims with work force statistics, performance reviews, skill assessments, team rankings, etc, etc, etc. For the engineers and geoscientists they’ll also argue a higher attrition rate for older employees is to be expected. It’s the result of the widely recognized bimodal age distribution in the oil industry’s professional workforce (the "Great Crew Change"). Curiously, the bimodal character of the industry workforce age curve is largely due to age discriminatory layoffs in the 80s & 90s, combined with a lack of young new hires during that period.

Faced with all that, the EEOC isn’t likely to do anything. It’s a burden of proof issue, the numbers are massaged so as to not be blatant. Add to that the EEOC is resource constrained, over worked and their regulatory authority is actively being undercut by the current administration. So, unless someone has a recording of DS clearly stating “We’re firing all the older employees because they cost more” then forget about the EEOC taking action. I don't agree with it, but they won't.

Do not misunderstand me: I DON’T approve of age discrimination. But fighting it effectively requires understanding its true extent. It’s not just a Noble problem, it’s pervasive in our industry. I’ve worked for several oil companies and they all practiced it. It happens for several reasons. The triggering mechanism is the boom/bust nature of the oil business itself. Then management incompetence and short sightedness take over and run with it. Laying off older/higher paid staff is an easy way to maximize cost cutting efforts. It’s WRONG, over the long term it hurts the company, but it is easy to do.

Implementing change won’t be easy. Many of us have been fighting against age discrimination our whole careers. The challenge is countering its pervasiveness and ease of implantation.

So, from that perspective I recommend a two-pronged strategy for dealing with it:

First, actively work to discourage age discrimination. Everyone benefits by eliminating it. Younger employees gain by having experienced mentors to teach them the tricks of the trade. Older workers benefit by working longer and saving more for a secure retirement (retiring when they are actually ready to do so). Everyone gains by having greater job stability.

Second, recognize that Noble and other oil industry companies are indeed practicing it. It’s a fact. Recognize also that it’s an unfortunate bi-product of this commodity price driven business. Regrettable as that is, it is not going to change anytime soon. Yes, do try and get that k–ler recording of the CEO saying “layoff the old people first”. Meanwhile, as an insurance policy, each of us should take steps to protect ourselves from it.

Your career is not dependent on Noble or any other company. Don’t be complacent. Build an industry wide network of colleagues who know your skills and can help you find another job when and if you need it. Save, save, save, while you can and/or take steps to transition into a more stable profession. Your livelihood and future retirement security are in your own hands. You will never be able to rely on Noble, the broader oil industry or the system for job security. Keep your skills current and manage your own future. You need to be proactive.

Good luck.

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Post ID: @cmfm+124LnWAS

Didn't leave on my own, but absolutely there is age discrimination there. To claim there isn't you must be a 28 year old business unit manager.

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Post ID: @9jen+124LnWAS

@124LnWAS-6hzrA Yes, there was and is age discrimination at Noble. "Yes, it's an industry wide problem too."

I know of NO other company in the oil & gas sector being investigated by the EEOC. Yes it is difficult to prove and I am sure Noble has covered their tracks as best they could... as true Weasels do. Once it became clear, to most of us, what a slimy company this is, we left on our own. Who would continue to work for these losers?

Not to mention their below industry pay structure.... poor financial performance, etc, etc...

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Post ID: @8vsy+124LnWAS

"Day of reckoning for Noble coming soon..."

Nice thought, but not likely, at least from the regulatory angle. Yes, there was and is age discrimination at Noble. Yes, it's an industry wide problem too. It's not right, it's not fair, but age discrimination is an unfortunate fact for anyone working in oil & gas. Older employees simply cost more, so they get targeted first when the cost cutting starts.

However, proving it is another matter. HR and the company lawyers are clever, they document their reasons for termination before doing so. That makes contesting it based on age or other bias an up hill battle.

Perhaps someday it will be different, I certainly hope that it is. In the meantime, anyone working in this industry should be planning for retirement by their mid 50s. If you can’t make the numbers work then start looking for a more stable career now.

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Post ID: @6hzr+124LnWAS

Noble already laid-off most of the "old" people in the company. Thus the investigation by the EEOC for age discrimination. Day of reckoning for Noble coming soon... from what I hear.

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Post ID: @5mlr+124LnWAS

Experienced folks already have a target on their back @ Noble! Why would they leave on their own when they could get a package in the next year or two?

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Post ID: @4lvo+124LnWAS

Did Noble management post this? Is this their way of justifying more layoffs for qualified people? Do I consider leaving and looking elsewhere for a company that appreciates talent?

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Post ID: @2hjr+124LnWAS

At the end of your hopefully successful oil and gas career, are you going to stop working at 55 when you could squeeze another ~10 years of remarkable compensation and benefits just to let the younger folks have a chance? You'd be an uncommonly altruistic person if you think the answer is yes. This industry is harsh, it can be rewarding one year and crippling the next. Lots of relocations, lots of periods without work, and seems (at least to me) to create more divorces than most other industries. If you can ride out the ups and downs of this business for 30 years, I think you're entitled to work as long as you can until the company gets rid of you. As a 28-year-old who's still fresh in this racket, I hope to be fortunate enough to last so long.

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Post ID: @1elc+124LnWAS

Petroleum industry people with knowledge, wisdom and experience should be sought after, not laid off. If companies think they can replace a 15-25 year person with a fresh college graduate, they are gravely mistaken. The universities are providing good educations, but the new graduates still need training, some mentoring and a lot of experience. Sure, they are less expensive, but would you prefer to go to a neurosurgeon who has a 20 year track record of successful surgeries or somebody fresh out of medical school that has seen limited situations in the operating room?

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Post ID: @1hzj+124LnWAS

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