SEATTLE—T-Mobile USA Inc. and its parent company, Deutsche Telecom A.G., have been ordered by the U.S. Department of Labor to pay $345,972 to a worker allegedly fired for being a whistle-blower.
Bellevue, Wash.-based T-Mobile said it plans to appeal.
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration said T-Mobile was accused of violating whistle-blower protection provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 in the 2009 termination of the Bellevue worker who raised concerns about the possibility of millions of dollars in fraudulent roaming charges being levied on hundreds of international corporate customers.
The federal agency does not release names of workers involved in whistle-blower complaints.
SOX “provides protection to workers who report alleged violations of federal laws relating to fraud against shareholders,” Dean Ikeda, OSHA's regional administrator in Seattle, said Thursday in a statement. “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.”
OSHA said the award reflects $244,479 in back wages and interest, $65,000 in compensatory damages and $36,493 in attorney fees. The company also must provide a neutral employment reference; post a notice about SOX's whistle-blower provisions and train employees on these provisions, according to the statement.
T-Mobile said in a statement, “This is a preliminary, administrative conclusion, made without the benefit of a full trial process. The conclusion is incorrect and not based on the facts. T-Mobile will appeal it and looks forward to presenting its evidence before an administrative law judge. T-Mobile acted appropriately in ending this individual's employment which was unrelated to any concerns he raised.”