Whistleblower Receives $820,000 Settlement

Whistleblower gets $820,000 in settlement for reporting agency irregularities.Whistleblower Bob Whitmore served as chief of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s (OSHA) record keeping division. He was employed with the Department of Labor for 37 years. Whitmore, under the Whistleblower Protection Act, was awarded $820,000 in a recent settlement.

In 2009, Whitmore was fired for speaking to reporters about unsafe working conditions and OSHA’s failure to hold companies accountable for under-reporting workplace injuries.  Whitmore spoke to reporters about the issue mentioning a North Carolina poultry company in his interview. He was fired after speaking to reporters.


Whistleblower Protection Act Prevents Retaliatory Firings

In his whistleblower defense, Whitmore argued OSHA purposely allowed companies to under-report workplace injuries. He accused the agency of wanting to silence his critical opinions and demands for stronger reprimands of employers who under-report workplace injuries. OSHA measures its success rate based on the decline in workplace injury rates. Whitmore claimed in newspaper reports and congressional hearings that OSHA allowed employers to under-report workplace injuries by failing to punish cheating companies. As an example, he referenced the North Carolina poultry company. Whitmore’s attorney, Paula Dinerstein,  believes his settlement will get the attention of federal officials and discourage them from retaliating against others that would have whistleblower offenses charged against them.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) record keeping standards (29 CFR 1904) require employers to prepare and maintain records involving serious occupational injuries and illness using the OSHA 300 log. Employers should consider the basic tips below when maintaining workplace records.

  • Develop and maintain a written safety plan.
  • Write legibly. Accurately and clearly communicate the nature of the injury.
  • Only use current and up to date OSHA log forms.
  • Ensure the individuals responsible for maintaining the OSHA log is well trained and committed to the task.

The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 and it’s subsequent amendments and revisions, is a Federal Law that applies to government workers who report misconduct within an agency. The law protects a “whistleblower” from any retaliatory action including firing.