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Bryant Whitten, LLP

Missile inspectors claim wrongful termination over tin dangers

California may have heard of the lawsuit brought by two missile inspectors after they claimed they were fired for telling the truth about a dangerously flawed piece of hardware. The alleged wrongful termination was said to have taken place after the men saw a missile with tin parts that could create short circuits and endanger Navy pilots in flight. The suit claimed that, beginning in 2012, each was pressured to sign off on the missiles even though they saw problems and refused, which resulted in their being fired.

In 2013, the Navy refused to allow the men's employer, Delaware's Alliant Techsystems, to use the tin components in the missile system. This led the engineers to agree to lessen their previous criticisms, but they pushed back against the company's insistence that they completely contradict their earlier report on the unreliability of the tin parts. The company was fined $1 million by the Navy for delivering the missiles containing those pure tin components.

The lawsuit states that this refusal to lie about the reliability of the missile components to the Navy brought about their immediate termination. The suit sought lost wages and work benefits, attorney fees and both damages and punitive damages for what they claimed was a wrongful discharge.

U.S. labor laws allow employees who believe that they have been wrongfully fired for refusing to commit legal acts or for reporting violations at their place of work to file suit. Taking such an action may lead to financial compensation for lost wages and benefits and attorney's fees, as well as punitive damages, being awarded by the court.

Source: Courthouse News, "Engineers Claim They Were Fired for Refusing to Sign Off on Defense Fraud", Matt Reynolds, December 18, 2013

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