The goings-on at aviation giant Boeing smell suspiciously close to whistleblower retaliation in dismissing the concerns of some of its employee engineers regarding the safety its planes. As a result, regulators were alarmed enough that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will investigate the company’s safety culture.
Granted, in the Boeing situation, the “whistleblowers” were not punished or fired, however, there concerns were quickly dismissed by managers of the Chicago-based company. In matters involving whistleblowers, such workers remain protected by federal law. Companies cannot retaliate against workers for expressing their concerns or reporting illegal activities.
Pressures from their employer
Because the FAA is so short-staffed, the federal agency currently relies on certain Boeing engineers to act on its behalf in reviewing and approving safety assessments at the company. Such a move has put these engineers in an awkward position because they must feel free to perform this role without pressures from their employer. It does not seem to be happening.
Between May and July, the FAA conducted a survey of 32 of the 1,400 Boeing employees currently acting on its behalf. One-third of the respondents expressed their concern. As a result, the FAA notified Boeing that it would conduct its own investigation.
One Boeing employee notified the FAA that after explaining to a manager why he could not approve something, the company sought another company engineer to investigate.
Such an example shows just how Boeing treads closely to whistleblower retaliation in its arrangement with the FAA. If you work at a company that subscribes to questionable practices, it is crucial to speak out, alert the right people and know that federal law protects you.