US Department of Labor orders T-Mobile and Deutsche Telekom
to pay whistleblower nearly $346,000 in back wages, damages
Agency orders company to reinstate Bellevue, Wash., worker
SEATTLE – Deutsche Telekom AG and subsidiary T-Mobile USA Inc. have been ordered by the U.S. Department of Labor to pay $345,972 to a worker in Bellevue, Wash., who was fired from T-Mobile in April 2009.
The order resulted from an investigation by the Seattle office of the department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration into alleged violations of the whistleblower protection provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. OSHA substantiated the affected employee's complaint, which alleged termination for raising concerns about the possibility of millions of dollars in fraudulent roaming charges being levied on hundreds of international corporate customers.
"The Sarbanes-Oxley Act provides protection to workers who report alleged violations of federal laws relating to fraud against shareholders," said Dean Ikeda, OSHA's regional administrator in Seattle. "This case clearly shows the department's commitment to ensuring that individuals are provided the protections and relief afforded by the law, and sends a strong message that retaliatory actions will not be tolerated."
In addition to requiring T-Mobile to immediately reinstate the whistleblower, OSHA's order requires the company to pay $244,479 in back wages and interest, $65,000 in compensatory damages and $36,493 in attorney's fees. The company also must provide a neutral employment reference, post a notice about the Sarbanes-Oxley Act's whistleblower provisions and train employees on these provisions.
T-Mobile, headquartered in Bellevue, is a mobile-network operator that provides wireless voice, messaging and data services. Deutsche Telekom AG, a telecommunications and information technology service company, is based in Bonn, Germany. Any party to the case may file objections or request a hearing before the Labor Department's Office of Administrative Law Judges within 30 days.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and 21 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various securities, trucking, airline, nuclear power, pipeline, environmental, rail, workplace safety and health, and consumer product safety laws.
Under the various whistleblower provisions enacted by Congress, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise various protected concerns or provide protected information to the employer or to the government. Employees who believe that they have been retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the secretary of labor for an investigation by OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program. Detailed information on employee whistleblower rights, including fact sheets, is available online at http://www.whistleblowers.gov.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321- OSHA (6742) or the agency's Seattle office at 206-757-6700.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
Editor's note: The U.S. Department of Labor does not release names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints.
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille or CD from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.