The city of Delray Beach, Fla., has agreed to settle a federal whistleblower investigation by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration involving a city inspector fired for raising concerns about contamination in the public drinking water supply.
OSHA announced Thursday that the city agreed to pay the former inspector $818,500 for harassing and terminating the worker after he identified and reported flaws in the municipal system that allowed recycled wastewater to cross-contaminate the city’s drinking water supply.
The Water Works Department inspector raised concerns about finding discolored, sandy and foul-smelling drinking water, after which he was removed from conducting inspections and then fired, and the city claimed the termination was due to the worker̵7;s position being eliminated in a reorganization involving only their jobs.
Before he was fired, the inspector had participated in investigations into the matter by the Florida Department of Health and the Palm Beach County Office of Inspector General, according to OSHA.
The worker was fired on February 24, 2022, and the settlement was reached on Tuesday.
In a statement, OSHA’s assistant regional administrator in Atlanta, Lily Colon, called the case “deeply troubling” and said no worker should be penalized for reporting legitimate safety and health concerns.