Fired Whistleblower Receives $820K Settlement from Labor Department


A former Labor Department employee has accepted an $820,000 settlement from the federal government after being fired for blowing the whistle on poor agency practices, according to a public-sector employee advocacy group.

Richard Whitmore worked for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for more than 20 years as the agency’s top recordkeeping official before speaking out on significant underreporting of workplace illnesses and injuries. OSHA placed Whitmore on paid administrative leave for two years before ultimately terminating his job in 2009, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

Whitmore’s settlement comes one year after a federal appeals court found evidence OSHA managers conspired against Whitmore in retaliation for embarrassing the agency. The appellate court sent the case back to the Merit Systems Protection Board, stating the independent, quasi-judicial agency’s original decision was “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion or otherwise not in accordance with the law.”  

The former OSHA employee spoke out internally, in the media and before Congress on the underreporting.

“This case stands for the proposition that an agency cannot incessantly harass a whistleblower and then punish him if he or she reacts,” said PEER Senior Counsel Paula Dinerstein, who successfully argued the Federal Circuit case for Whitmore, in a statement. “We expect that that the size of this settlement will bolster the effect of the Federal Circuit decision in deterring federal agencies from retaliating against whistleblowers.”

As part of the settlement, Whitmore -- 66 -- agreed not to work for the Labor Department for 15 years.

“I can’t wait until I’m 81 years old and go back to work,” Whitemore told The Washington Post. “I’m sure the system will be in the same sorry-ass shape that it is today.”

(Image via bikeriderlondon/

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.