A General Motors assembly plant repairman was fired after reporting concerns with the facility's inspection process, but because his concerns centered on the process, rather than on a vehicle defect, he is not protected by a federal whistleblower law for auto industry employees, a judge in Missouri has ruled.
Richard Barcomb's reports alleging misuse of GM's Global Standard Inspection Process system and misconduct by a co-worker didn't relate to "defects in manufactured motor vehicles," U.S. District Judge Stephen Limbaugh Jr. wrote in a Jan. 23 decision dismissing the lawsuit.
The 2012 Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act prohibits firing employees of vehicle manufacturers, parts suppliers and dealerships in retaliation for providing information related to defects.
It's the first time a court has examined the scope of whistleblower protection for automotive industry employees, Limbaugh said.
Barcomb was assigned to the final process repair section of GM's Wentzville Assembly Center where he worked on vehicles that came off the line in need of repair "due to errors occurring earlier in the manufacturing process," the decision said. The Missouri plant builds the Chevrolet Colorado, Chevrolet Express, GMC Canyon and GMC Savana, according to its website.