We’ll soon learn more about a former “Crown Castle USA, Inc.” (NYSE: CCI) employee, as court documents refer to the company, who says he was fired unjustly. Former Crown Castle Federal Sales Director Matthew Foosaner sued the company last May, claiming he was terminated in retaliation for making disclosures that are protected under the Defense Contractor Whistleblower Protection Act.
During his interview in 2018, Foosaner mentioned the importance of complying with the Act and noted his prior experience involved Defense Federal Acquisition Regulations (DFARS) compliance. His interviewer told him if hired, DFARS compliance “would not be one of his responsibilities,” according to the latest document in the case.
Foosaner began working for Crown Castle in November 2018. He claims on a call with several superiors, they discussed a current customer. Foosaner informed them that as a subcontractor that serviced circuits to other contractors who integrated and resold the circuits to several agencies, Crown Castle was required to be DFARS compliant.
During a sales meeting, Foosaner told sales reps that certain contracts were required to comply with DFARS and “he was concerned” the company “was not complying,” he states in the court filing. He claims he was told to “stop talking about this compliance stuff,” and that he was “scaring people.”
He raised concerns again in December, and was fired before meeting with a client. Foosaner alleges he was told he “was being fired ‘for cause,’ based on [an] allegation of unprofessional behavior.”
Foosaner filed a whistleblower reprisal complaint with the Department of Defense (DoD) in April, 2019 and spoke with investigators. He received a “closure” letter from DoD in May 2020, and then filed his complaint with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia soon after.
Crown Castle asked the court to dismiss the complaint in September, 2022, and Foosaner opposed that. Crown Castle argued that Foosaner failed to make a “plausible” whistleblower reprisal claim.
In late August of this year, U.S. District Judge Rossie Alston, Jr. disagreed, saying Foosaner’s allegations “create a reasonable inference that [his] protected disclosures contributed to his termination.” The judge denied Crown Castle’s motion to dismiss. Crown Castle has until today to respond.
By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief