Major business operations are in the political crosshairs of millions of American voters. Senator Bernie Sanders continues his message about the need to reform corporate America — and provides a comprehensive plan to significantly transfer power to workers in the U.S. economy.
Senator Elizabeth Warren has proposed breaking up big tech, giving workers a seat at the table on corporate boards and increasing taxes on corporations.
In the Aloha State, Hawaiian Electric Industries (HEI) CEO Constance Hee Lau is the highest paid employee at $5.7 MILLION last year. To put her compensation in perspective, a worker making $50,000 per year would need to work OVER one hundred years to earn what she receives in one year. Connie Lau has “great privilege.”
We would like to congratulate the success of CEO Lau — except she commands in a reign of corruption, incompetence, lies, deception, and pattern of misleading current and prospective employees. Residents of Hawai’i are pono to expect efficient and excellent service — as rate-payers of Hawaiian Electric face the highest energy costs in the nation.
America Demands Safe Workplaces
I spent about ten years as a healthcare policy researcher with workers’ compensation. During that time, I certified as an addiction specialist focusing on drugs in the workplace, specifically opioids. The opioid epidemic has devastated families across the nation.
A worker might suffer a bad fall (leading cause of injury in the workplace); her doctor might prescribe an opioid medication; and within months, the employee might be overwhelmed with a dangerous and deadly addiction.
Ten Most Common Workplace Accidents and Injuries
Slips, trips and falls
Being hit by falling objects
Repetitive strain injury
Crashes and collisions
Cuts and lacerations
Inhaling toxic fumes
Exposure to loud noise
Due to my training in workers’ compensation and opioid addiction, I have shunned opioid prescription pain medications. Instead, I use Medical Cannabis at night prior to bed — never before or during work. The State of Hawai’i legalized this medication in 2000.
On February 25, 2019, Hawaiian Electric Co. (HECO) HR director, Shana Buco, fired me for using Medical Cannabis based on CEO Connie Lau’s HEI Corporate Code of Conduct.
Due to my outstanding service to the companies for over six months, HECO offered me a permanent, internal position and required a pre-employment drug screen. I had checked corporate policy. My medication is both legal and prescribed, and HEI policy suggests I am compliant.
Yet to be sure, I disclosed my injuries and pain medication to HECO HR rep Elizabeth Deer on February 14, 2019. She said I would be fine. And, on February 20, 2019, company IT security manager congratulated me for being selected and notified me that my official start date in the new role would begin February 25, 2019. I announced my good fortune to the world.
Yesterday, I wrote about my deep interest in philosophy and political theory. I have been a student of Socrates most of my professional life. Socrates wasn’t popular though. He irritated people with his use of logic and reason. Humans appear to prefer emotion.
Rather than start my new position February 25th, HECO HR director Shana Buco called to fire me. “How can this be?” I pleaded with tears running down my face. “Corporate code says I am compliant.” I added, “I even spoke with Ms. Deer a couple weeks ago. She said I would be fine.”
Cruel, callous Buco wasn’t interested in reason, logic or accuracy. She wasn’t going to debate me. She terminated me — kicked me out of the building like a common criminal.
Shana claimed the drug screen showed I was “intoxicated or impaired” in the workplace; that I was a “danger to coworkers, the company and general public;” and that I was a criminal engaged in “illegal activity.”
Socrates understands this slander. I had submitted to a standard urine screen. This test cannot be used to assess current intoxication or impairment. This measure does not determine whether one might be a danger to anyone. The standard urine screen simply shows if someone has consumed cannabis in the recent past — days, weeks or even months depending on their pattern of use.
Why would Shana slander me? She told me Hawaiian Electric had provided no written information to her about Medical Cannabis in her time with the company — over six years. This sounds like incompetent leadership to me. The Hawaiian Electric HR director demonstrated no working knowledge of the science behind a drug-free workplace policy.
In a meeting with Margo Lalich, Executive Director, Hawai’i Keiki program, she discussed her frustration with the level of incompetence in many sectors of the local economy. Most residents are aware the corruption in hiring practices here, as those in power hire family members, cousins, relatives, friends or employees of similar cultural background. Merit is of lesser importance than “fit.” Ms. Lalich considers this to be an epidemic problem that hinders progress in the islands.
Lying Tran and Li
Trying to resolve this dispute over medication was complicated due to the factual misrepresentation of Hawaiian Electric general counsel, Susan Li and Thao Tran.
Possibly an old photo of Thao T. Tran, currently Senior Associate General Counsel at Hawaiian Electric.
In a letter regarding the termination on April 12, 2019, Hawaiian Electric attorneys Thao Tran and Susan Li wrote:
“It is undisputed that Hawaiian Electric was not aware of [employee’s] asserted disability and related medical issues at any time before the decision to rescind was made … [employee], therefore, was not discriminated against because of his disability.”
Yet on February 19, 2019, Michael M. Kusaka, MD, notified the companies officially and in writing that I had a “Marijuana Certificate.” The doctor disclosed to me he had verbally notified the companies February 18th. I had informed HR on February 14th; the drug screening clinic notified the company four-five days later.
Hawaiian Electric attorneys knew, or should have known, about my disability and related pain medication. Per their own words, it looks like they lied to cover up their illegal and discriminatory behavior.
Slandered by Shana; Lied about and tormented by factual misrepresentation from Li and Tran. Talk about a management swamp at Hawaiian Electric. And they considered me to be a criminal.
Unremarkable Connie Lau
In April this year, KITV ran a feature about HEI CEO Connie Lau. They mentioned Connie “broke barriers from the beginning as part of only the second class of women at Yale.” Imagine that … the year was 1970. Yale President, Kingman Brewster, Jr., took a chance on Connie and about 120 other young women.
Connie seems to have flourished at the former “males-only undergraduate student” private university. She went on to law school and later earned a MBA at prestigious Stanford Graduate School of Business. A darling of America, one of the “remarkable” women of Hawai’i, and this is how she crafts drug-free workplace policy:
I’ve written to numerous policy specialists inquiring about professional policy. One expert responded:
The part of the policy you sent seems vague and outdated and it appears you were misled. I suggest you find an employment lawyer who works on the employee side.
Hawaiian Electric’s retained counsel, Joseph A. Ernst, in a presentation August 14, 2018, urged business leaders to draft and create professional and updated substance use workplace policy. He specifically stated company policy should include “express provision” regarding Medical Cannabis.
Mr. Ernst provided a list that company drug policy should include:
• Ensure you have an updated written drug testing policy.
• Extra care is needed if you must comply with DOT regulations
• Include express provision dealing with medical marijuana (cannabis)
• Treat everyone the same
• Don’t make exceptions for some employees and not others
• Make sure to do confirmatory testing
• Make sure you use a licensed lab to test
Vague, outdated and misleading policy. This is the level of competence from 67-year-old Connie Lau and her female team of attorneys and managers. There appears to be no concern or commitment to excellence; no interested in ‘imi pono (to strive for righteousness) as pledged in the corporate code (below) — just another marketing slogan and corporate misrepresentation of material fact.
How does this make you feel? You’re working hard each day to provide for your family. You might have 2-3 jobs. Here’s the Most Privileged Woman in the islands making more than you will ever earn in your lifetime. She leads with incompetence and appears to nurture deception, intentional misrepresentations, and a policy framework that misleads prospective and current employees.
Connie’s team states on the Hawaiian Electric website “with that great privilege comes great responsibility.” Another convenient deception and misrepresentation?
Connie also demands Fair Dealing with the “Company’s customers, suppliers, competitors and your fellow employees.” She mandates Hawaiian Electric personnel “never take unfair advantage of others through manipulation, concealment, abuse of privileged information, misrepresentation of material facts or any other unfair dealing practice.”
Quite Unremarkable, Connie Lau!
Remember you heard it here first. Please leave your comments below and be sure to FOLLOW ClearHeath Life Strategies. We provide News of the News You Wish You Knew.
Ko’olau of Kaua’i. I am the Defiant One
“I Believe We Can”