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City of Cleveland to Pay $425,000 to Settle Whistleblower Claim

The City of Cleveland will pay a $425,000 settlement in response to a whistleblower claim filed by an employee at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

According to Abdul Malik-Ali, the whistleblower in the case, leadership at the airport retaliated against him when he brought safety concerns about the airport to the federal government.

In addition to the settlement, the airport will give Ali a pay raise and clear his file of all disciplinary reports connected to his whistleblowing, which included a 15-day suspension after he placed an emergency order of de-icing chemicals for clearing off runways.

Background of the case

Ali served as the manager of field maintenance for the airport. In 2015, he brought forth safety concerns about inadequate snow removal staffing with an FAA inspector, a concern he had previously raised with administration at the airport. The inspector agreed, and was alarmed by the low staffing levels. The next day, the inspector decided to observe snow operations, which led to a fine of $735,000 levied against the airport by the FAA a month later.

The airport director at the time, Ricky Smith, quickly demoted Ali after hearing about Ali’s meeting with the FAA inspector. He was forced to do menial tasks and was moved into what was essentially a closet.

In 2017, OSHA ordered Ali be paid $96,000 in lost compensation, attorney fees and pain and suffering damages, while also ordering his immediate reinstatement and demanding the airport make it known it was guilty of retaliation.

If you have been a victim of retaliation after exposing safety concerns or wrongdoing in your workplace, consult an experienced whistleblower lawyer at Kardell Law Group right away.

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