Whistleblower Attorneys Urge Boeing CEO to Address Internal Whistleblower Program Questions During Senate Hearing

June 17, 2024

Washington, D.C. — Today, attorneys Debra Katz and Lisa Banks sent a letter to Boeing CEO David Calhoun urging him to answer questions regarding the efficacy of Boeing’s internal “Speak Up” whistleblower program during his upcoming Senate hearing.

“In our conversations with Boeing employees, we have heard, time and time again, that they do not feel comfortable coming forward internally with engineering problems due to fears of retaliation from company managers,” said Katz and Banks. “This is a serious issue, and it is time that Mr. Calhoun provide Senate investigators and the public with more information regarding how the company administers its internal whistleblower program. Taking steps to ensure that people come forward internally without fear of retaliation and reprisal is a critical component of improving Boeing’s safety culture. While Mr. Calhoun boasts that he’s ushered in a new era of valuing employee whistleblower complaints, the company has provided limited information about such efforts. Mr. Calhoun again asks the public to trust Boeing’s word without credibility or additional information.”

In the letter, Katz and Banks ask Calhoun several questions, including:

  • What efforts have you made to ensure that Boeing whistleblowers are treated respectfully and without retaliation?
  • You claim that “Speak Up” complaints from January and February 2024 were up 500 percent compared to the same period in 2023. What are the actual numbers? And can you tell the public where these complaints are coming from (which facilities, for example), and by categories or employees (mechanics, engineers, etc.)?
  • Has Boeing increased staffing for those handling these calls? What specialized training has the staff been provided to investigate these concerns?  What rights are afforded to employees to review and respond to evidence relied upon by the investigators?
  • Of the complaints of retaliation that Boeing has investigated, in what percentage did investigators find that retaliation had occurred? What actions did Boeing take in cases in which retaliation was found?
  • Is the F.A.A. made aware of every complaint? Why has Boeing resisted the Society of Professional Engineer Employees in Aerospace’s efforts to bring more transparency to the Speak Up report program?
  • Will Boeing make a commitment to retain an outside firm – approved by the FAA — to conduct a climate survey to determine how deep and pervasive concerns of retaliation remain at Boeing?
  • What do you plan to do to improve this Safety and Ethics reporting process, which now inadequately handles and brushes away real instances of retaliation against employees?

A complete list of questions may be found in the letter.

Katz and Banks represent Sam Salehpour, who testified before the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in April regarding alleged manufacturing and assembly issues with the 787 and 777 aircraft, and who faced retaliation by Boeing for coming forward.

MEDIA AVAILABILITY:

Mr. Calhoun is set to testify to the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Permanent Investigations on June 18th, at 2pm. Immediately following the hearing, Ms. Banks will hold a brief media availability to comment on his testimony and to call for additional action by Boeing and the FAA to ensure the safety of its commercial fleet.

 

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