Doing the right thing should not be that hard. However, when wrongdoings take place within your workplace and you see it happening, you find yourself in a quandary. Whistleblowers, though, must overcome their fears of ostracization and job termination from their employer. Granted, that is difficult to do.
But matters often work out in a whistleblower’s favor. Take for instance a recent case involving a Lansing chemical company employee who complained about possible illegal accounting practices at the worker’s employer. The employee was fired, but the federal government ordered the company to rehire the person and pay the worker nearly $765,000.
Alleged illegal accounting practices
On June 29, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced the results of a retaliation investigation involving a former account manager at Equistar Chemicals LP. OSHA – which is part of the U.S. Department of Labor — ordered the Lansing company to pay the whistleblower $50,000 in damages, $50,962 for interest on back wages, $145,293 for lost benefits and $518,189 in wages.
The company had fired the employee, but the federal government ordered Equistar Chemicals – a subsidiary of LyondellBasall — to reinstate the worker. The Netherlands-based LyondellBasall is considered among the biggest plastics, chemicals and refining companies in the world with U.S. operations in Houston.
According to OSHA, the whistleblower employee questioned whether certain accounting practices followed by the chemical company were illegal. Soon after, Equistar and LyondellBasall ordered the employee on a work improvement plan, but eventually terminated the person.
Like all whistleblowers, this worker was protected by federal law. It is illegal for a company to retaliate against a worker for speaking up, reporting potential illegal activity and doing the right thing.