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Chevron boss accused of workplace bullying

John Suzuki, who worked as a patent liaison at the Chevron Richmond, CA office for over 35 years, was forced to take early retirement this month rather than risk his health by returning to work under a boss who allegedly subjected him to workplace bullying.

Suzuki’s doctors had diagnosed him as being at high risk of another heart attack after he had at least two episodes of severe chest pains following incidents in which his boss, Alan Klaassen, allegedly harassed and threatened him, and called him a “stupid Jap.”

When Suzuki told Klaassen and a manager, Frank Turner, what his doctor said, Klaassen and Turner allegedly laughed at Suzuki.  To make matters worse, Chevron allegedly refused to consider Suzuki’s request to move him to a different department.  Suzuki claims that Chevron told him that if he did not return to his department and his supervisor Klaassen, he faced being terminated.

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Chevron boss accused of workplace bullying
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5 Responses to “Chevron boss accused of workplace bullying”

  1. Sean Comey says:

    I am a spokesperson for Chevron, and learned about this forum from one of our employees. While we will not comment on the specifics of this matter because Mr. Suzuki has not allowed us to discuss his personnel matter publicly, we share your concerns about equal employment opportunity and strongly believe that hateful and discriminatory conduct is intolerable.

    Because we take the concerns raised by Mr. Suzuki seriously, we engaged an independent, third-party attorney, Susan Kumagai, who specializes in employment law, to conduct an impartial and thorough investigation. That independent counsel interviewed 14 witnesses, including those identified by Mr. Suzuki. She was unable to substantiate Mr. Suzuki’s allegations.

    So while we disagree with Mr. Suzuki and his attorney’s version of the events, we want you to know that we remain steadfast in our commitment to equal employment opportunity.

    We appreciate the opportunity to address the concerns raised in this forum.

  2. John Ota says:

    I am Mr. Suzuki’s attorney and I am responding to Chevron spokesperson Sean Comey’s post, which shows that Chevron is saying nothing new, only repeating its same lame excuses. Comey claims that Chevron did “an impartial and thorough” investigation which was “unable to substantiate Mr. Suzuki’s allegations,” but he provides no facts to support these empty generalities. These fact show that Chevron’s so-called investigation was not fair or thorough:

    1. If the investigation was “impartial and thorough” why is Chevron refusing to give Mr. Suzuki a copy of the report of investigation? If the investigation was “impartial and thorough” the investigation report should make that clear to all. What does Chevron have to hide?

    2. Comey says that Chevron’s investigator interviewed 14 witnesses, but I know for a fact that the investigator failed to interview 2 of the 3 witnesses Mr. Suzuki said could confirm that he told them about the racial slur close to when it happened. Such corroborating witnesses are important evidence in harassment cases such as this where only the harasser and the employee were present when the harassment took place. I also have reasons to believe that Chevron did not talk to the third corroborating witness, either. Chevron’s failure to interview the corroborating witnesses show that its investigation was not thorough or fair.

    3. Chevron says the so-called investigation was done by “an independent, third-party attorney, Susan Kumagai, who specializes in employment law.” The fact is, Ms. Kumagai, on her firm’s website, describes herself as a “specialist in representing management” in employment discrimination cases. Not exactly who you’d hire if you wanted a truly independent investigation. Mr. Suzuki asked Ms. Kumagai and Chevron how many such investigations Ms. Kumagai had done in the past and in how many of those cases, if any, she found that harassment had in fact occurred. Ms. Kumagai and Chevron have steadfastly refused to respond. What is Chevron trying to hide here? Perhaps Mr. Comey will provide this information.

    4. Chevron ordered Mr. Suzuki back to work under his supervisor even before the investigation was complete, and threatened to terminate him unless he complied. This shows that Chevron was assuming that his allegations were false even before the investigation was done — otherwise it makes no sense to order him back to a supervisor who had harassed him to the point of causing him severe medical problems. Such an assumption again shows that Chevron’s investigation was not “impartial,” but rather, rigged from the beginning to achieve the pre-determined result that Chevron desired.

    Conclusion: Chevron has not conducted an ‘impartial and thorough investigation” of Mr. Suzuki’s allegations — it has merely gone through the motions. Chevron likes to talk about its “commitment to equal employment opportunity,” but more and more people are seeing through its hypocrisy.

    John Ota

  3. ocdgirl2000 says:

    wow, I would love to have Mr Ota as my attorney!only I live in Maryland! and I work for local gov. no one can deal with them!(sigh…)I just live with it as best I can..Bully will be tossed around from department to department..
    .-= ocdgirl2000´s last blog .. =-.

  4. Lois McCoy says:

    This is an excellent attorney and HE clearly exposed Chevron’s lame attempt to cover their “asses”. GO FOR IT AND NAIL THEM GOOD. :)

  5. Internal investigations are in and of themselves conflicts of interest as HR or some other employee of the organization with relationships to the bully bosses, cannot conduct an impartial, objective investigation. I have yet to see an organization turnover their investigation; only their conclusions which invariably are in favor of the bully boss. Anyone who is working for a bully and who cannot leave immediately you need to protect your job as long as you can taking certain steps which may allow you to stay until you find new employment.

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