Texaco fired one executive, kept another on suspension and dropped benefits for two retirees Wednesday for their secretly recorded comments degrading minorities and suggesting lawsuit documents be destroyed.
The retirees include Richard Lundwall, the executive who made the tapes and released them to plaintiffs in a race-discrimination lawsuit. Texaco, facing the threat of a boycott after the tapes were made public, quickly settled the case for $176 million.
Lundwall is the only Texaco executive charged so far in a federal investigation into whether documents sought by the plaintiffs were destroyed by company executives.
The New York Times reported Wednesday that Lundwall is cooperating with investigators. Lundwall’s attorney refused to comment on the newspaper’s report. Later, the attorney did not immediately return a call about the punishments meted out by the company.
The punishments were prompted by a separate, recently completed investigation, commissioned by Texaco, by outside attorney Michael Armstrong. The company refused to release Armstrong’s report, saying federal prosecutors felt that making it public would interfere with their investigation.
In a letter to employees, Chairman Peter Bijur said the conduct of the two employees and two retirees “clearly violated the company policy and our Code of Conduct guidelines.”
Company spokesmen refused to elaborate.
Texaco suspended “those benefits which are legally allowable” for Lundwall and a second retiree, Robert Ulrich, who was Texaco’s treasurer. Those benefits had been suspended since November, shortly after the tapes became public.
Fired was David Keough, who was an assistant treasurer at the time the tapes were made in 1994 and had become chief financial officer of the Texaco subsidiary, Heddington Insurance. He had been suspended since November, shortly after the tapes became public.
Peter Meade, assistant general manager of Texaco’s fuel and marine marketing division, who had also been suspended since November, will be suspended for two more weeks and was ordered to attend sensitivity training.
In 1994, the company’s 1,400 minority workers filed a racial discrimination suit, claiming that a “good old boy” network at the company reserved the best promotions and biggest raises for whites.