Last week in this employment law blog, we discussed the risks of blowing the whistle on an employer's wrongdoing in Florida. This week, we have a real-life example.
A man has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against his former employer, Florida Power and Light, accusing the company of violating whistle-blower laws by firing the man for actions he took to avoid a nuclear disaster.
The case goes all the way back to 2009 when the man, an operations manager at the St. Lucie Nuclear Plant, was ordered to start a reactor that had a faulty coolant valve, according to the lawsuit. The worker refused, because doing so reportedly had the potential to cause a nuclear meltdown at the plant. He reported the problem to the chief nuclear officer and executive vice president of the company, but he was reportedly told to start the reactor anyway because it would be costly not to do so.
The worker went against these orders and did not start the reactor until the valve was repaired.
According to a lawsuit, in the aftermath of this incident that man's supervisors created a hostile work environment until finally terminating his job this June.
The lawsuit points to alleged violations of Florida's whistle-blower retaliation statute and requests compensation for lost wages, lost time and emotional distress.
Florida Power and Light has denied the allegations.
While the outcome of this case remains to be seen, it is a reminder that Florida workers have options when their rights are violated in the workplace.
Source: Sun Sentinel, "Former Saint Lucie nuclear plant manager says he was fired for preventing meltdown," Ariel Barkhurst, Sept. 18, 2012
Source: South Florida Business Journal, "Ex-FPL employee alleges nuclear decision led to retaliation," Paul Brinkmann, Sept. 18, 2012