Another Whistleblower Sues Boeing for its Management’s Endemic Whistleblower Retaliation, Providing a View Into Just How Intentionally Compromised “Boeing Ethics” and “Boeing’s Office of Internal Governance" Organizations Are.
A blog from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which, thanks to intrepid reporter Andrea James, has made a special effort in tracking the numerous whistleblower lawsuits against Boeing (My comments are in parenthesis within the article text):
'An attorney who worked in Boeing's ethics policing division says that he was demoted to being an administrative assistant and then fired after raising concerns about violation of government regulations.
Joseph Sicilia, who lives in Spokane, filed a lawsuit against The Boeing Co. with the King County Superior Court in April. (Sicilia is wise to ask for a jury trial—finding an honest judge in King County Superior Court would be a crap shoot, indeed. Sicilia's attorney will still have to be on guard for any adverse rulings on Boeing's behalf during trial, as there is still much a biased judge can do to derail justice in even a jury trial, as I witnessed happen during my trial) A Boeing spokesman said Wednesday that the case has no merit. (That statement from Boeing’s spokesman can be taken at face value, if you adjust for the many past other similarly false Boeing announcements and take the opposite of what they state here as the truth—in other words, the case does have merit. Of course, Boeing said that ICO Global’s lawsuit against them had no merit, and it in the end it actually did have merit, costing Boeing 631 million dollars.
Sicilia worked for Boeing from 2001 until his firing in November 2007. For most of his time at Boeing, Sicilia worked in the Office of Internal Governance, which is the company's ethics department based at Chicago headquarters. He reported to supervisors in Seattle, the complaint says. (This is what is so damning about his complaint—it documents in detail wrongdoing at Boeing Headquarters in the Office of Internal Governance—the last department of Boeing that should be corrupted. The suit documents just how Boeing's "promises of compliance with laws and regulations" after being caught committing serious frauds against our government were just empty promises, and that explains in part why Boeing Management continues to willfully engage in fraud to enhance the bottom line up until the present moment. Sicilia wanted Boeing's compliance promises to be born out in actual compliance, whereas his OIG management obviously did not. When complaints of unethical conduct and fraud are ignored within the very department that is tasked with investigating such complaints--Boeing's OIG--that indicts the entire ethics complaint system it oversees, rightly.)
One of Sicilia's responsibilities was to ensure that Boeing complied with promises it had made to the federal government to maintain its ability to bid on government contracts. In 2005, Sicilia perceived that certain policies enacted by his supervisor "would result in the misrepresentation of compliance, thus equating to fraud," the complaint says. (Fraud at Boeing? Does a bear shit in the woods? Sicilia was doomed from the start in that he obviously had integrity and worked in “compliance assurance” activities at Boeing. Integrity in such a position is the last thing you would want to have if your only goal was to stay employed at Boeing. In my experience (and obviously many other’s), the appearance of compliance is the only thing Boeing Management wants—real compliance would be far too expensive and prevent the company from engaging in business practices that would give it an edge over its more honest competitor’s management. I know. My job was to ensure compliance of Boeing’s safety critical products to quality, safety, and reliability requirements. However, my management directed me to rollerstamp (stamp them off on the documentation rather than actually doing them) the inspections required to ensure such compliance—thereby only giving the appearance of compliance with those critical requirements for the safety of Boeing aircraft.)
Later on, other program changes made within Boeing further reduced corporate compliance with federal acquisition regulations, Sicilia believed. He reported his concerns up the management chain several times, but the lawsuit states that his complaints were never investigated. (The OIG and Boeing Ethics in my experience only superficially investigate such reports, if that. The chance of a real investigation are much worse the more serious the allegations are for Boeing Management’s continuance of the particular scheme the report covers.)
Sicilia charges that Boeing managers began to retaliate against him in several ways, including denying travel requests necessary to perform his duties, verbal abuse, pointing him to other job openings and giving him poor work evaluations. (I was pointed to other job openings as well. When the company wants to fire you for being too ethical and/or for whistleblowing on their fraud, and you are an hourly person represented by a union, they will try to get you to transfer into a salaried unrepresented job where it is much easier for them to wrongly terminate you. My Boeing supervisor tried to do that to me in 2005.)
After returning from a three-month medical leave in April 2007, he'd lost his position in compliance and "was ultimately given a position (as) an administrative assistant in the Corporate Secretary's office." (Interesting, I had to take a three month leave as well, apparently for an eerily similar reason--the stress from harassment and retaliation by Boeing Management for doing the right thing--in my case, the stress from the harassment and retaliation I was under for doing my job as an inspector and for reporting Boeing QA Management fraud to the FAA.)
The lawsuit alleges wrongful discharge in violation of public policy, and charges that Boeing violated the Washington Law Against Discrimination, the Washington State Family Leave Act, the Illinois Whistleblower Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, and the anti-retaliation provisions of the False Claims Act. Sicilia asks for compensation for damages, back pay and future economic loss.
Boeing has not yet filed a response to the court. (The Boeing response would be interesting, if it actually contained the true facts and not just the Boeing Legal pro-forma “we deny each and every allegation” garbage.)
"Boeing's got a strong compliance monitoring system and effective mechanisms for reporting potential wrongdoing," Boeing spokesman Chaz Bickers said. (If God struck people dead instantly for lying, this spokesman would be a goner for making such a statement. The suit itself--and many facts outside of it that corroborate its allegations--prove the spokesman's statement to be false. In this regard, this won't be the first time a Boeing spokesman called white black and black white. Of course, maybe he was just ignorant of the real truth, but you would think that Boeing would put someone knowledgeable of the subject out to comment to the press. In fact, Boeing’s OIG is the organization tasked by Boeing with retaliating against whistleblowers. The antithetically named Boeing Ethics program is also intentionally ineffective, especially if your complaint is against management) The suit is clearly without merit and Boeing will defend it accordingly."
Bickers confirmed that Sicilia worked in contracts and pricing and then worked in the OIG organization. He also said that Sicilia was not employed as a Boeing attorney. (That appears to be the truth, for once.)
Sicilia's lawyer, reached by phone on Wednesday, says she intends to seek a jury trial. (Smart move. Don’t ever put your fate in the hands of a King County Superior Court Judge—you may get one of the few good ones, but that is extremely unlikely odds.)
"Boeing takes a scorched Earth litigation philosophy," Spokane trial attorney Mary Schultz said. "Never admit. Never acknowledge. Never say you're sorry." (Wow. True, indeed. If Boeing had honest management of integrity, it wouldn’t have to resort to such tactics.)
Schultz' firm, Mary Schultz Law P.S., and William Gilbert of Dano, Gilbert & Ahrend PLLC are handling the case.
To emerge successful in a wrongful termination case such as this one, Sicilia's lawyers do not have to prove that Boeing did anything wrong. Rather, they must prove that Sicilia honestly believed that Boeing did something wrong, and that the company retaliated against him because he spoke out. (That’s good, for getting any responsive information in discovery that would negatively and truthfully reflect on Boeing wrongdoing would be difficult, indeed. Corrupted organizations like the King County Prosecutor’s Office also help in obstructing such discovery, as they did in my case.)
"This is one of these areas that the American public is very concerned about these days," Schultz said, referring to the government contracting process. "People like Joe Sicilia are very important for the integrity of the system." (Amen. A huge understatement, in fact. With many corrupted government agencies still, whistleblowers are the public’s almost only hope to expose and correct fraud by ethically and legally wayward companies.)
Read the full text of the compliant.
The lawsuit is filed in state court. Boeing faces at least two other wrongful termination suits in federal court:
End of Seattle Post-Intelligencer blog.
The two linked suits above are from the Boeing SOX IT whistleblowers who were wrongfully terminated by Boeing.
And now my (and others) comments on this news:
"Sicilia is right. His suit provides real insight into what I've known for years of Boeing Management misconduct and fraud—and it indicts the Boeing OIG and Ethics departments, and rightfully so. As Sicilia's and many others' experiences show, Boeing is never serious about compliance with laws and regulations, even at the highest management levels, and even in the departments created to give the appearance that Boeing intends to comply.
What happened to Sicilia is SOP for corrupt Boeing Management against anyone they see as a threat to Boeing management's numerous frauds. There must be a book for corrupt managers on how to do such retaliation and harassment, as Boeing Management is too consistent at doing it for there not to be such an "anti-bible" they use for such cover up actions for their fraud.
I and many others have witnessed the deep, deep corruption of Boeing Management from the lowest first line to the highest Management levels at the company. And many of us have suffered retaliation and harassment for doing the right thing at a company where the management insists on being able to do the wrong thing--no matter how many lives are lost in the process or how many dollars the government is defrauded out of, or how seriously our nation's security is damaged by their frauds.
RICO laws need to be enforced ASAP against Boeing management for the sake of all Boeing employees. I don't know of any company's management more deserving of the application of those laws against organized crime. Suits such as these are too slow at reform. Bravo to Sicilia for naming Boeing employees in his suit. That may be a quicker way to reform--not going after the "Queen" of such corruption, but going after the individual corrupt "ants" in the corrupt Boeing "ant hill" thereby scaring each individual "ant" into compliance when management (the "Queen ant") obviously wants the opposite.
To have a company such as this in America with a management so corrupted and so unreformed and still apparently "untouchable" by law enforcement makes America itself look corrupted. There should be no free passes to violate laws and commit fraud in America--no matter what the size of the company."
BoeingStockHolder on the P-I website had some excellent points on this article:
'The world is finally starting to see the light escaping from the black hole of OIG and BLT (the Boeing Legal Team) and it's not just poor disgruntled OIG auditors as AJ initially reported...now that the tables have been turned on one of the inside men by OIG and BLT...How many of the same complaints of the "Ships on Fire" do we have to hear before the ship burns down to the waterline?'
BoeingStockHolder is exactly right. Perhaps a judgment large enough in this case will finally motivate the Boeing OIG and Boeing Legal team to follow the laws and regulations rather than finding ways (including whistleblower harassment and retaliation) to continue to skirt them undeterred. It's all about the money with these types--not right and wrong--so if it can easily be proven that Boeing loses more money engaging in fraud than it gains, then it will finally reform.
Another comment form an unregistered poster:
"BA doing something illegal ? Of course – what’s new? Fish rots from the top. I've dealt with the BOD as a shareholder, with Perkins Coie, and a few corporate sectys over the years. Its been downhill since Frank Shrontz and his entourage left, and over the cliff since BA melded with the Mickey D Klan"
Excellent point, unregistered! True, both about Boeing Management and Boeing's outside counsel.
Another astute poster:
"Those of us who have been at Boeing - and had to deal with some of the jerks in corner offices probably have NO problems in following this guys story as shown in the filing. And more than a few can probably make his story seem mild."
Amen. Worked there. Seen the criminality up close. Too bad Boeing helped install their own King County Prosecutor that covers for Boeing crimes instead of prosecuting them.
Yet another enlightened poster on the forum:
"...ethics every day, not just once a year...I'm more concerned that, even perceived from inside the company, there is merit to these allegations of misconduct and unethical actions. BTW ... The Boeing OIG is not a compliance organization ..... its a damage control team."
Exactly. It is more than a damage control team--it actively retaliates against whistleblowers, as this suit and many other cases prove. The government cannot do business with Boeing rightfully until the OIG, Boeing Legal team, and Boeing Management are reformed.
Glad to see Boeing Management corruption and lawbreaking are now common knowledge. As Marianne Jennings said, eventually a company's frauds will come to light no matter how hard they try to hide it.
Boeing management is now beginning to reap the "rewards" for selecting the ethically bankrupt managers instead of the ethical or competent. When you force the ethical employees out of the company, it shouldn't be too surprising what is left. A whole book could be written about just how Boeing Management and Boeing Legal got so corrupted. It would be best however, if ethical police and prosecutors did the work on that "book" themselves. If so, it would have a happy ending for both Boeing and the public, even if the public had to pay for the living expenses of many officials in and out of the company as a result.
Just how compromised "Boeing Ethics" and the Boeing OIG are is starting to become more widely known, finally. Let’s hope that the people outside Boeing with the power to reform Boeing also notice.
The Last Inspector