Whistleblowing air marshal gets back pay

Wisconsin residents may be pleased to hear that on Nov. 18, an air marshal who was fired after publicly disclosing Transportation Safety Administration plans to cut back on the number of air marshals on planes in 2003 was awarded nine years of back pay. In May, he had been reinstated in his position after a Supreme Court ruling found that he had not illegally provided information.

The air marshal had been deemed a whistleblower. A decision had been made to reduce the number of air marshals on overnight flights to save on hotel costs, and the man had reported the change to MSNBC. A judge who ruled in his favor said that the air marshal had disclosed the information to MSNBC because he felt it constituted a serious risk to public safety.

In response to criticism from Congress, the TSA changed its position. However, in 2006, the man was fired for revealing sensitive information. In June 2015, he testified before a Senate hearing in June about his whistleblower status.

Workers in Wisconsin have a right to whistleblower protection as well if they disclose their employer’s wrongdoings. This might include financial irregularities or violation of state or federal regulations. For example, an individual who works at a factory might report that environmental regulations are being ignored. A whistleblower might also speak up due to a concern for how the company’s actions affect public safety as in this case. Workers who feel that they have faced retaliation for their whistleblowing efforts may wish to consult an attorney. Retaliation can take many forms and may range from harassment or intimidation on the job to denial of promotion, demotion or termination. Like the air marshal in this case, workers may be eligible for both reinstatement of their position and back pay.

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