A former longtime employee of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant says he was forced into an early retirement after a campaign of harassment, intimidation, and personal attacks by his superiors.
The allegations were part of a lawsuit filed Sept. 12 in SLO County Superior Court by Gary Maier, a 54-year old man who worked at the plant for 32 years. Maier is asking for more than $1.2 million in damages, according to court documents.
Maier was working as a supervisor of strategic projects at Diablo Canyon in February 2015, when his working relationship with his manager began to deteriorate. The manager began a “campaign of intimidation” due to Maier’s “insistence upon following regulatory and ethical compliance requirements by PG&E and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission,” the lawsuit alleged.
“His actions were defined as potential ‘whistleblowing’ that required his forced termination,” the lawsuit, filed by SLO Attorney Daniel McGee, stated.
The lawsuit did not elaborate on what ethical or regulatory violations Maier was allegedly calling out before he left the company. McGee did not respond to requests for comment from New Times.
Because of his actions, the lawsuit claims that a systematic effort to oust Maier from his job began. That campaign allegedly included unspecified “false and defamatory” accusations appearing in his employment records. When Maier attempted to take his issues though PG&E’s employee grievance process, he was told that being transferred to another position away from his manager wasn’t an option, and that his only options were to retire or find another job, the lawsuit claimed.
In the end, the lawsuit said Maier chose to retire five years earlier than he’d planned in order to “avoid the embarrassment of being terminated.”
“Maier asserts that inadequate oversight of PG&E’s managers in implementing training standards has resulted in an endemic problem that allowed Maier to be constructively terminated despite attempting to follow company policies and regulations,” the lawsuit stated.
As of Sept. 14, PG&E had not filed a response to the lawsuit in court.
“PG&E is absolutely committed to the highest ethical standards and treating all of its employees equally and fairly,” PG&E spokesman Blair Jones wrote in an email statement in response to questions from New Times. “We have not yet been served with the lawsuit and had time to review the claims, so we are unable to comment on the substance at this time.”