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US Settles Prisoner’s UNICOR Whistleblower Suit for $6,000

US Settles Prisoner's UNICOR Whistleblower Suit for $6,000

On October 27, 2006, the United States paid $6,000 to settle with a federal prisoner who claimed he was fired from his UNICOR job in retaliation for filing safety complaints with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

In his lawsuit, originally filed pro se in the U.S. District court for the District of Colorado, Keith Leigh Shannon claimed he was fired from his prison job in 2002 for reporting safety violations to OSHA. Shannon contended that during his time working in UNICOR's furniture factory at the U.S. Penitentiary in Florence, Colorado, he witnessed numerous accidents causing serious injury to prisoner workers. Most of the factory's machines were in violation of federal regulations, Shannon alleged, or were missing safety items mandated by the federal government or specified by the manufacturer that could have in most cases prevented the accidents.

OSHA acted on the complaints and inspected the factory on June 17-18, 2002, issuing citations for seven safety-related violations. Shannon was fired the next day. After exhausting his administrative remedies Shannon filed suit against the United States on October 25, 2002, pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1346.

The U.S. decided to settle after lengthy pretrial litigation rather than proceed to trial. Under the agreement Shannon will receive $6,000; will have 55 months of employment added to his longevity status; will receive a promotion to grade one in his current position; and will have all records related to his termination expunged.

Shannon at some point gained representation from Denver attorneys Antony M. Noble and Paula M. Ray. See: Shannon v. United States of America, USDC D CO, Case No. 03-CV-0352-RPM-CBS.

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Related legal case

Shannon v. United States of America

The complaint and settlement in the case are available in the brief bank.