From our offices in the Detroit area, Akeel & Valentine, PLC serves clients nationwide.

From our offices in the Detroit area, Akeel & Valentine, PLC serves clients nationwide.

A whistleblower’s stand against Boeing

On Behalf of | Mar 19, 2024 | Whistleblower

John Barnett, a former Boeing employee, made headlines for his stance as a whistleblower against his former employer. Barnett, who retired in 2017 after 32 years with Boeing, worked as a quality manager at the North Charleston plant in South Carolina.

On March 8, Barnett died from a gunshot wound while sitting in his truck outside the hotel where he had been staying.

Allegations of company misconduct

After retiring, Barnett took legal action against Boeing. He claimed the company had disparaged his character and hampered his career. He also alleged the company forced him to retire because he complained about safety issues.

Safety concerns

One of the key concerns Barnett highlighted was about the oxygen system on board the 787 Dreamliner, claiming that 25% of the oxygen systems he tested did not deploy correctly. He further claimed that workers used sub-standard parts from scrap bins on the production line.

Boeing’s response

Boeing denied Barnett’s allegations. Officials stated that they had addressed any defective oxygen bottles and had implemented corrective actions. They also denied any negative impact on Barnett’s career, asserting that his retirement plans were long-standing.

Prior legal troubles

Boeing has faced legal challenges beyond Barnett’s case. In 2018 and 2019, two Boeing 737 MAX airplanes crashed, resulting in the grounding of the entire model worldwide. Investigations revealed that Boeing had misled the Federal Aviation Administration during their investigation, leading to criminal charges and a $2.5 billion settlement.

Continuing scrutiny

More recently, Boeing faced further scrutiny after a door plug blowout on an Alaska Airlines Flight in January 2024. The Department of Justice opened a criminal investigation into the incident, adding to Boeing’s legal woes.

Calls for change

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has called for a “serious transformation” within Boeing, emphasizing the need for improved safety and manufacturing quality. Boeing has pledged to cooperate with all investigations and audits, as they work to address these issues.

John Barnett’s story sheds light on the importance of whistleblowers in ensuring accountability and safety within corporations. His actions have sparked conversations about transparency and ethics in the aerospace industry, highlighting the need for continued oversight and improvement.