Chevron engineer awarded $5.57 mn in wrongful firing case
SILICON VALLEY, Oct. 30, 2007
NRI Kiran Pande, former employee of Chevron Corp., San Ramon-based
company, was awarded $5.57 million by a San Francisco federal court
jury that found Chevron liable for wrongful termination in late
2003 after 15 years with the company
Kiran alleged that Mr Rex Mitchell, supervisor made racist remarks
about her heritage. She was fired in retaliation for complaining
about the racist conduct of a Rex Mitchell who is now the oil company’s
chief compliance officer.
Kiran was born in India and holds a Ph.D. in petroleum engineering
from Stanford University. According to her complaint:
- She was hired by Chevron as a research engineer in 1988
- After four years, she was promoted to senior research engineer
and was recommended by her supervisors.
- After stints overseas and another promotion, in the fall of
2000 she was transferred again and in her new position reported
directly to Rex Mitchell.
- In 2001, Kiran Pande began to suffer harassment and discrimination
at the hand of supervisor, Mr Rex Mitchell.
- In March 2002, Pande complained to Mitchell's supervisor, James
Johnson, about Mitchell's conduct.
- Johnson did not investigate, rather Pande was given three choices:
leave the company, leave the group, or stay for up to 18 months
and get along with Mitchell.
- She was excluded from work-related meetings. In the spring of
2003 she elected not to move with her business unit as it was
relocating to Houston
- After Pande transferred to what she considered was a lesser
job within the company, she was not given a merit pay increase
for the first time in all her years there. She was not being awarded
a raise because of Mitchel's performance evaluation of her work.
- After that she filed a formal complaint against Mitchell with
a company ombudsman.
Chevron fired Kiran Pande in late 2003 while she was on medical
leave. The company attributed the decision to Pande’s inability
to find another job in the company’s San Ramon headquarters
after her previous position was transferred to Houston.
After few months, Kiran Pande sued Chevron, maintaining her dismissal
was tied to a harassment and discrimination complaint she filed
in 2002 against Rex Mitchell. Mitchell denied that allegation in
Chevron Corp's media adviser said, "We are disappointed with
today's verdict and are focusing on post trial motions and a possible
appeal. Ms. Pande's decision not to move to Houston with her department
as part of a corporate restructuring is understandable and we respect
her decision. However, in voluntarily electing not to relocate with
the rest of her colleagues, Ms. Pande's decision led to her eventual
On 29 October in San Francisco, the jury unanimous verdict reached
and found that Chevron retaliated against Pande after she complained
about discrimination and fired her for reasons that violated a public