Hawaiian Electric CEO Constance Hee Lau and Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett: Cruelty vs Competency

Hawai’i has been a chain of islands characterized by theft of land, exploitation of human beings and unbridled greed since Polynesian warlord Kamehameha I kicked off his 30-year war (1780-1810) to create his kingdom.

Plantation owners and business interests colluded to continue the oppression of workers and ordinary families. These beautiful islands of Paradise with promise of aloha are run by corporate executives who enrich themselves and friends by cheating hard working people.

Although serving with distinction as a top “MVP-rated” employee, Hawaiian Electric management fired me for being a medical cannabis patient. Company founder, William Hall, led the coup that overturned the kingdom in 1887. The company today denies employment to over 35,000+ medical patients and our nation’s Veterans who need this life-saving alternative medication.

Government officials bury my complaint to protect business interests over suffering human beings. This is my open letter of protest.

William Hoshijo, Hawai’i Civil Rights Commission director
Stephen Chang, Hawai’i Civil Rights Commission investigator
Raymond Griffin, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission director

Hawai’i State Senator Mike Gabbard
Hawai’i State Senator Roz Baker

Randall C. Whattoff, attorney for Hawaiian Electric
Joseph A. Ernst, attorney for Hawaiian Electric

RE: Petitioner v. Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc. and Hawaiian Electric Light Company, Inc.
HCRC No. 20793; EEOC No. 37B-2019-00269

Aloha e friends,
Hau’oli Makahiki Hou 2022 !!! Wish all of you a productive start to this new year. The recent public interchange by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett is relevant to this complaint. The senator asked the CEO to intervene in a United Steelworkers union strike. [1]

“At a time when this company and Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA) are both doing very well, there is no reason why workers employed by you should be worrying about whether they will be able to feed their children or have health care. There is no reason why the standard of living of these hard working Americans should decline. I know that you and Berkshire Hathaway can do better than that,” Sanders wrote.

Buffett responded with a letter quoting Berkshire’s annual financial filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which tells investors management of its different companies is left up to the executives at each subsidy — not Berkshire itself (or Buffett).

CEO Buffett’s response mirrors that of both Hawaiian Electric attorneys, Randall C. Whattoff and Joseph A. Ernst, who petitioned HCRC / EEOC in this jointly-filed complaint to release HEI from the legal proceedings.

Attorneys for Hawaiian Electric -- Randall C. Whattoff and Joseph A. Ernst
Attorneys for Hawaiian Electric — Randall C. Whattoff and Joseph A. Ernst

Unfortunately for CEO Constance Hee Lau, she is not the same as CEO Buffett. While Mr. Buffett takes a “hands-off” approach toward management of the Berkshire Hathaway subsidiaries, Ms. Lau is directly engaged. It would be interesting to determine whether Mr. Buffett authored and approved a BRKA Code of Conduct for all companies under his corporate umbrella.

However, at the time of my employment and termination from Hawaiian Electric, the HEI Code of Conduct guided expectations and policy for ALL employees, as the screen shots below authenticate.

Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc. Corporate Code of Conduct
Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc. signees of Corporate Code of Conduct

Appendix A – HECO’s “Section 2. Conduct Supporting Our Core Values”

Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc. Corporate Code of Conduct Appendix A
Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc. Corporate Code of Conduct -- no unprescribed use or illegal drugs

I valued, trusted and respected CEO Lau. As HECO Chairperson of the Board, I took her words in good faith, assuming as did others in Hawai’i and across the nation, that she was competent and professional.

In 2015, Hawai’i state law declared medical cannabis to be the equivalent of any prescribed medication. Also in 2015, the US Congress and President Obama declared states such as Hawai’i, that have well-regulated medical cannabis programs, would provide jurisdiction over dispensing and use of medical cannabis. Even in our most divisive political times, all congressional sessions as well as Presidents Trump and Biden have continued this policy.

As this edition of the HEI Code of Conduct was approved November 20, 2017, reasonable employees conclude medical cannabis is permitted at HECO, MECO and HELCO. As a non-safety sensitive employee not regulated by DOT or other federal / state agencies, my legal use of cannabis at home, and never before or during work hours, should not have been cause for dismissal. And Hawai’i ADA covers a disabled employee such as me.

More importantly, I specifically asked my assigned HR rep to be sure. Ms. Deer told me I “would be fine.” Had she not, I would have asked someone else and not gone forward with the drug screen. HEI Code of Conduct requires both fairness and offers waiver in application of any policy.

Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc. Corporate Code of Conduct -- fair dealing in all matters

Hawaiian Electric did not treat me fairly. I was an excellent candidate to be considered for waiver of any alleged medical cannabis prohibition.

Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc. Corporate Code of Conduct -- waivers of the code

Although I informed my assigned HR rep, Liz Deer, on February 14th, company personnel did not notify me of an alleged restriction or engage in discussion regarding accommodation up to and on February 25th when HR director Shana Buco terminated me from my position. In my discussion with Ms. Buco on February 27th, she denied my request for reinstatement, accommodation or reconsideration for employment.

Hawaiian Electric CEO Connie Lau, Susan Li, Thao Tran, Liann Ebesugawa, Shana Buco: Asian Executives Treat White Male Employee Cruelly
Hawaiian Electric CEO Connie Lau, Susan Li, Thao Tran, Liann Ebesugawa, Shana Buco: Asian Executives Treat White Male Employee Cruelly

Let me illustrate the cruelty of these Asian females toward a White male, as I was recruited to O’ahu by HECO to fill their technical needs. It is common knowledge in the islands Americans of European heritage and US government are routinely blamed for the 1893 overthrow of the Hawai’i Kingdom.

This story is somewhat inaccurate, as the actual overthrow occurred in 1887, led by William Hall, who founded Hawaiian Electric Light Company in 1891, and 100 Honolulu Rifles. The US government played no part in this coup. I also had nothing to do with island politics at the time. Holding me or other White males responsible is foolish and misdirected.

I have been deeply engaged in the Asian community as a professional. My experience left me with feelings of deep admiration for the collective Asian competence, dedication, kindness and compassion. The females involved in this incident do not reflect the admirable values of the Asian American cohort.

As I mentioned previously, I am confident these ladies would not have terminated my Korean female colleague for using medical cannabis in treatment of her breast cancer.

Nobody in the islands would act this callously to a woman — removing her source of income, taking away her health insurance, and embarrassing her professionally in this manner. How easily they crushed a male!

Consider this … ALL contractor and internal employees who departed my HECO IT unit were taken to lunch in appreciation of their service to the team. Although receiving “MVP” ratings from my supervisor, HECO executive management demanded I exit the building like a common criminal just before lunch February 25th.

Ms. Buco claimed I was a such a danger to my coworkers, company and general public that she terminated me immediately. I was in the process of completing emails, providing data and IT solutions to colleagues; had short as well as long term obligations to coworkers and the company across O’ahu, Maui and Big Islands.

HECO executives did not allow me time or professional courtesy to complete the tasks as promised … throwing our entire mission and department objectives into turmoil and chaos.

Hawaiian Electric not only did not care compassionately about an injured, disabled human being, they kicked me into the street humiliating me and distressing a critical work group during a vital mission for the company.

Neither Warren Buffett nor Senator Sanders would approve of such negligent, cruel and incompetent corporate behavior. CEO Connie Lau said nothing. This failure clouds her legacy at this time.

I would appreciate it greatly if you would stop protecting the failure and incompetence of your friends and act in accordance of US federal guidelines and state civil rights laws.

Thank you in advance for your time and anticiapated cooperation. As we begin a new year, this is an excellent opportunity to correct the failures of the past.

I have been advised it is unlawful for any person covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, to threaten, intimidate or harass me because I have filed a complaint. The continued refusal of HCRC to further investigate this complaint is harassment. As such, I am publishing this letter and forwarding to appropriate officials in Washington, D.C.

The damage done to our family and my physical, mental and emotional health remains unacceptable, see: Suicide or Stick Around? Holidays Are Rough

[1] https://www.cnn.com/2021/12/31/business/bernie-sanders-warren-buffett-steelworkers-strike/index.html

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Ko’olau of Kaua’i. I am the Defiant One
“I Believe We Can”

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