San Francisco: A federal jury has awarded $5.57 million (euro3.87 million) to a former Chevron Corp. engineer from India who alleged she was fired in retaliation for complaining about the racist conduct of a supervisor who is now the oil company’s chief compliance officer.
The unanimous verdict reached on 29 October in San Francisco found Chevron wrongfully terminated Kiran Pande’s 15-year career at the San Ramon-based company in 2003.
Pande sued Chevron a few months later, maintaining her dismissal was tied to a harassment and discrimination complaint she filed in 2002 against Rex Mitchell. Pande, a US citizen born in India, alleged Mitchell made racist remarks about her heritage. Mitchell denied that allegation in court documents.
Chevron fired 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.
Pande alleged she was being punished for her earlier discrimination complaint. The jury sided with her and rebuked Chevron by including $2.5 million (euro1.74 million) in punitive damages in its recommended award. The jury also decided Chevron should pay $3.07 million (euro2.13 million) to compensate Pande for her past and future losses.
“An award of punitive damages was appropriate here because not only did Chevron treat Kiran despicably, but throughout the trial the written record said one thing while Chevron’s managers and supervisors testified to another,” said Christa Anderson, one of the lawyer who represented Pande.