GM Whistleblower Sues After Being "Blackballed"

January 13, 2003 ( - An employee of General Motors Corp (GM) has sued the automaker for a violation of the Michigan Whistleblowers Protection Act of 1980, after he threatened to report possible vehicle safety defects.

Courtland Kelley, a former manager of an internal auditing program, alleges he was “blackballed” after threatening to report a potential car design danger.   Kelley said this safety hazard could cause the cars to spill fuel, risking injury or harm to drivers, passengers and pedestrians, according to the Associated Press Story.

In the lawsuit, Kelley said he repeatedly notified higher management of the problem but was ignored.   After being disregarded by GM management, Kelley finally reported his findings to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in December.   Following his NHTSA report, Kelley was demoted on January 2, 2002 and his auditing program was discontinued.   He contends these actions by GM were because he had threatened to contact the federal agency about the defects.

“His primary objective is to get defective vehicles off the road and protect public safety,” Kelley’s attorney, Rose Goff, told The Detroit News.

Currently, Kelley is employed at the GM Tech Center in Warren but does not have a title or permanent assignment. He says he has been denied access to internal computer files, such as the ones he helped create that describe the safety concerns.