Many Wisconsin employees may feel they are able to bring safety concerns to the attention of their employer without fear of retaliation. However, this is not the case for many employees around the country. One engineer from a northwestern state brought several safety issues to the attention of his employer regarding a project worth billions of dollars. He claims that he suffered retaliation and was even fired from his job directly as a consequence of his being a whistleblower.
Last month when his employer let him go, a severance package was apparently offered to him. However, the company had one requirement before giving him that package — he had to drop all pending or contemplated lawsuits and agree to never file additional lawsuits in the future. The engineer was apparently unwilling to accede to those demands.
The safety concerns that the engineer had regarding the project he was working on seem to have been confirmed. The project has since been shut down. The engineer on the multi-billion dollar waste management project had pointed out that mixers that would be used to keep radioactive liquids from separating were not going to work. This could cause heavier elements to settle at the bottom of the mixer, start a chain reaction and produce dangerous amounts of hydrogen gas that could explode.
This man’s employer allegedly put him in the untenable situation of having to choose between his livelihood and the potential safety of thousands of people. A federal judge dismissed the engineer’s whistleblower claims last year, but he has filed an appeal in hopes of getting a jury trial. Wisconsin employees who may find themselves in a similar position may be relieved to know that there are laws to protect people who bring these types of issues out into the open.
Source: king5.com, Hanford whistleblower: “I was now the enemy”, Susannah Frame, Nov. 1, 2013