Fired for Refusing to Cover Up, Oil Worker Says

DALLAS (CN) - A Texas oil and gas drilling equipment manufacturer fired a whistleblower for refusing to "commit a crime" by covering up pollution violations, the man claims in court.
     Donald Austin sued Permian Tank & Manufacturing, Permian Holdings, Lide Industries and Lide employee Dennis Pusser, on Wednesday in Dallas County Court. Collectively doing business as PermianLide, the Dallas-based defendants are the largest domestic manufacturers of above-ground storage tanks and processing equipment for oil and gas exploration and production companies, according to their website.
     Austin claims his former boss, Pusser, assaulted him during the dispute.
     Austin had been an excellent employee for until it wrongfully terminated him for refusing to commit a crime," the complaint states. "PermianLife terminated Austin's employment when he refused to participate in the pollution and cover-up of ground and water contaminates by PermianLife."
     Austin claims he would have violated the Clean Water Act had he knowingly contaminated or polluted the ground or water.
     He said his firing for refusing to commit a crime was illegal under the Texas Supreme Cours ruling in Sabine Pilot Services Inc. v. Hauck.
     He also claims the defendants refuse to return at least 12 of his power and industrial tools after expelling him from company property.
     PermianLide officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday evening.
     Austin seeks actual and punitive damages for wrongful termination, assault, battery and conversion.
     He is represented by Brian Sanford with Sanford Bethune in Richardson.