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Claims of ongoing retaliation in whistleblower case

Edward Snowden's revelations brought national attention to whistleblowers much the way the movie Silkwood had previously. In both cases, whistleblower protection and laws that protect those who speak up also were debated nationally. In Indiana and nationally, there are other, less well-known whistleblower cases taking place. These people also face the same possible retaliation and job loss the resurgence of the topic has brought to light.

A whistleblower in Washington state has now filed a third complaint with the Department of Labor since being fired from her job. She claims that, following raising safety issues, she experienced retaliation for being a whistleblower and was fired. Among the claims of retaliation, she cites being excluded from meetings, having her decisions countermanded and having her authority reduced. The company contends she was fired when concerns were raised by an individual regarding her conduct.

The woman worked as an environmental and nuclear safety manager. The safety concerns she reported were in regard to a facility that is expected to treat more than 50 million gallons of radioactive waste materials. Her employer was a subcontractor for the Department of Energy contractor hired to build the plant. The woman's claims of ongoing retaliation are a contributing factor to there being multiple claims filed.

Indiana whistleblower protection laws vary, with statutes of limitations affecting the time line. These time limits begin at 30 days and extend out to more than four years in length. However, both state and federal whistleblower statutes provide protection for whistleblowers who report employer misconduct or fraud. A person who wishes to report such suspected misconduct by an employer may wish to also seek legal counsel to ensure their rights are protected.

Source: Tri-City Herald, “Hanford whistleblower asks to drop lawsuit; other legal action under way,” Annette Cary, April 27, 2014

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