Whistleblower in Boca gets $322,500 in Settlement

Date Published:

A former utility department employee in Boca Raton, Florida will receive $322,500 as part a settlement to resolve her whistleblower lawsuit. According to The Palm Beach Post, the whistleblower filed the lawsuit in 2008 alleging that she was fired from her 23-year job for reporting drinking-water safety violations. In addition to the amount she will receive, the city paid about $390,000 in litigation costs.

The settlement was reached on the eve of the trial, The Palm Beach Post. City officials did not comment on the settlement, and a state watchdog group said that this was because it would reveal weaknesses in agencies responsible for safe drinking water. The city denied any wrongdoing or liability in the settlement.

The whistleblower’s attorney told The Palm Beach Post that the city repeatedly downplayed the whistleblower’s concerns; she had gone to state regulators after being ignored by city officials.  “The fact is the issues she raised were very important to protect the public and its drinking water,” he stated. He also said that employees should be able to speak up about their concerns without being afraid of retaliatory action. In commenting on the settlement, he said that “It’s a real victory for public employees and the rights of the public to have safe drinking water,”

The whistleblower said that the city did not take proper measures to ensure that the reclaimed water system didn’t mix with drinking-water supplies. She also reported that in certain parts of the city, the water pressure was below state standards. Last year, the city reached a settlement with health officials over certain violations without admitting wrongdoing.