Another former Boeing SC flight line worker claims he was fired for reporting safety concerns

VIDEO: Boeing SC responds to lawsuit filed by flight line worker claiming he was fired for reporting safety concerns

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - For the second time in two weeks, Boeing has been named in a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by a former employee at the company’s plant in North Charleston.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Charleston County court.

Kurt Hollensteiner, a visible union supporter, was hired in 2007 and fired in October of 2018 because he claims that he reported safety concerns, according to the lawsuit.

Hollensteiner’s attorneys explain in the lawsuit that he held the position of “tool focal” which required him to inspect tool boxes before and after shifts to make sure tools were accounted for and in good repair.

Part of the process included using a rubber stamp on an inventory sheet which included eight forms to stamp on each shift in a binder.

The lawsuit claims Hollensteiner was asked to “catch up” on 50 or more stamps of tool longs by supervisors and management would hold “stamping parties” when an audit found tool sheets out of compliance. Management would assign workers a sheet in order to back-stamp paperwork to make it look like it was in compliance, according to the lawsuit.

Hollensteiner protested the practice of the alleged parties but participated in fear of losing his job, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit details one incident in which Hollensteiner claims a senior manager told him, “Kurt, I need you to get these stamps back into compliance" which he claims the manager knew was a violation of FAA compliance.

That same manager would later fire Hollensteiner for falsifying company records, according to the lawsuit. Hollensteiner claims he was fired for his safety complaints regarding tool accountability and involvement in the union.

He is seeking actual, compensatory and punitive damages.

Hollensteiner becomes the third former flight line worker at the North Charleston plant to sue Boeing in 2019, joining Rich Mester and Liam Wallis.

While the company has not filed a response to the lawsuit yet, they did provide information from its response to an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Complaint filed by Hollensteiner.

The response was from April 24, 2019 and Boeing S.C. says it addresses many of the same complaints in the lawsuit.

It quotes information from Boeing’s Corporate Investigations Department about this matter.

In the EEOC response, and Boeing EEO Compliance Specialist wrote, “During the CI investigation, Mr. Hollensteiner conveyed he heard [supervisors] having a conversation about the missing Inventory Sheets, and that they ‘need to be caught up’ in preparation for an internal audit… Mr. Hollensteiner said Mr. Owen looked in his direction when the comment was made, and Mr. Hollensteiner interpreted that Mr. Owen was telling Mr. Hollensteiner that he should update the records in preparation for the audit.”

Boeing SC said this original story from Hollensteiner saying he overheard the conversation doesn’t match up with the lawsuit filed yesterday in which in claims he was directly told by managers to falsify the reports.

The EEOC response from Boeing also said, “Mr. Hollensteiner also conveyed that if her were faced with the same circumstances (i.e. second and third shift Inventory Sheets being stamped already) that he would probably stamp the sheets for first shift again.”

The company said that is what led to the termination.

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