Dead Whistleblower's Mom Blames Boeing

'If this hadn't gone on so long, I'd still have my son,' says Vicky Stokes
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 28, 2024 6:08 AM CDT
Updated Mar 28, 2024 7:37 AM CDT
Whistleblower's Mom Blames Boeing for His Death
In this Friday, March 31, 2017, file photo, Boeing employees stand near the new Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner at the company's facility in South Carolina. Barnett worked at the facility before resigning in 2017.   (AP Photo/Mic Smith, File)

The mother of Boeing whistleblower John Barnett says she blames his former employer for his death. Barnett, 62, was found dead of an apparent suicide on March 9 while giving evidence in a whistleblower lawsuit against the company that employed him for 32 years. The former quality manager described a culture of concealment at Boeing, where managers urged employees to cut corners and violate Federal Aviation Administration regulations. He described titanium shavings falling into electrical wiring and defective oxygen tanks and said he was harassed for raising the alarm. His family previously said he was "suffering from PTSD and anxiety attacks as a result of being subjected to the hostile work environment at Boeing, which we believe led to his death."

Speaking with CBS News, Barnett's mother, Vicky Stokes, pointed to years of litigation that followed the filing of Barnett's lawsuit. "If this hadn't gone on so long, I'd still have my son, and my sons would have their brother and we wouldn't be sitting here," she said. "He thought of himself as trying to do the right thing," added brother Rodney Barnett. "And that's what bothered him, that nobody would listen as to what was going on there." Barnett's suit claims "he was harassed, denigrated, humiliated, and treated with scorn and contempt by upper management ... to discourage him and others from raising such issues," per Fox Business. The family hopes to continue with the suit, through which Barnett sought back pay, lost benefits, and damages for emotional distress. It is set for trial in September, per CBS. (More Boeing stories.)

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