Laclede Gas to pay $3 million to ex-safety inspector for wrongful termination

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by KMOV.com Staff

KMOV.com

Posted on October 31, 2013 at 7:56 PM

Updated Friday, Nov 1 at 5:30 AM

(KMOV) –A St. Louis man who came to News 4 to blow the whistle on Laclede Gas Company was awarded more than $3 million in a lawsuit against the company on Thursday.

Tom White said he lost his job as a senior safety inspector for blowing the whistle at Laclede Gas claiming his warnings were repeatedly ignored.

Tom White’s responsibilities at Laclede Gas included making sure crews were digging in accordance with state and federal regulations.

White said Laclede Gas would intentionally cut corners and avoid making the calls to Dig-Rite.

“I notified my company - my boss and his boss - that we weren't following all the Dig-Rite laws on all our job tasks. I was told to back off. And I was to not bring it up no more,” said White.

He showed News 4’s Jasmine Huda the warnings and reports he sent to his bosses, including one after a worker was electrocuted on the job in 2009.

News 4's Jasmine Huda said, "Part of it me finds it hard to believe that they would skirt  the law when this is a huge safety issue."

“It costs money to have locates done. And time. And that's the problem. It's quicker to do a job task without a locate,” said White.

White said the company made up a case, accusing him of stealing a cement mixture from the company. White sued for wrongful termination and the court ruled in his favor to the tune of $3.67 million.

Laclede Gas tells News 4 it denies the allegations presented by White. They follow procedures on a daily basis to ensure employees and customer safety. A full statement issued by Laclede Gas can be seen below.

 “Safety is a part of everything we do at Laclede. We follow procedures every day to ensure the safety of our employees and our customers. That is why before we dig we call 811, the national ‘Call Before You Dig’ number. Laclede Gas Company has never been fined for violation of the Missouri Underground Facility Safety and Damage Prevention Act. In fact, we support the 811 program with public education campaigns and by serving on the Missouri One Call Systems board of directors. We deny the allegations presented by Mr. White in his lawsuit. We expect to prevail as we did in all of the other counts filed against the four defendants. The remaining count is going to trial next week so we are unable to discuss specifics at this time.”

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