If you’re new to our blog and are anything like our readers you’ve more than likely noticed a number of stories in the news recently that have been related to employment law. The most prominent being of course that of Edward Snowden who has captured the media’s attention after whistleblowing on the NSA for unconstitutional surveillance programs. But another whistleblower has also gained media attention this month after winning a $820,000 settlement with the U.S. Department of Labor.
Some residents here in Indiana may remember Bob Whitmore who has been fighting a wrongful termination case against the U.S. Department of Labor for nearly four years. He was fired in 2009 after he spoke out against his agency for allowing companies to under report workplace injuries. Now, he has been awarded a landmark settlement in an important whistleblower case.
Whitmore, who was formerly the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s top official for record keeping, spoke to reporters in 2009 about the dangerous working conditions for poultry workers and how OSHA consistently allowed companies to fail to report work-related injuries. It’s important to point out that Whitmore had the right to report the misconduct of his employer, finding protection from retaliation and termination under the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989.
Feeling that his termination was a direct result of his whistleblowing, Whitmore soon filed a complained against the Labor Department and has fought to have his case heard for four years now. Although the government agency has reached a settlement with Whitmore, a stipulation in the agreement also says that Whitmore is barred from seeking employment with the Labor Department for 15 years. While Whitmore agreed to the terms of the settlement he says that he regrets the fact that he will not have the opportunity to continue providing safe working environments for employees across the nation.
Source: The Charlotte Observer, “Feds to pay OSHA whistleblower $820,000 settlement,” Ames Alexander, June 5, 2013