Whistleblower Law Blog
Former BP Employee is Terminated After Refusing to Alter Data About the Progress of Clean-up of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
Former BP employee August Walter filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana last week, alleging that the oil company violated the Louisiana Environmental Whistleblower Statute when it terminated Walter after he refused to alter data related to the progress of clean-up for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Walter, a “state planning lead” on BP’s cleanup efforts in the Mississippi gulf coast, raised concerns in May and June 2011 that BP was removing only large tar balls, intentionally leaving smaller oil debris on the beaches. According to Walter, BP failed to follow the Shoreline Treatment Recommendations, a plan delineated by federal agencies, including the Coast Guard and the Department of Interior. BP’s reason for its inadequate cleanup efforts, said Walter, was to report to the Coast Guard that it was ready to begin its next phase of cleanup, which in turn would help boost the prices of BP shares. Walter reports that at one point he was called into a meeting with BP’s VP of Operations, Carla Fontenot, and was asked to falsify data because his reports were inconsistent with BP’s planned progress reports. When Walter refused to comply with BP’s demands, the company placed him on administrative leave and later terminated his employment.
Walter is seeking back pay, reinstatement to his former position, and compensatory damages.
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