Former Deere employee sues company after fired, claims retaliation for safety concerns

A former employee is suing Deere & Company, claiming he was fired in retaliation for bringing up a safety concern with batteries.
Published: Feb. 7, 2023 at 4:47 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ROCK ISLAND Co., Ill. (KWQC) - A former employee is suing Deere & Company, claiming he was fired in retaliation for bringing up a safety concern with batteries that would be used in an electric tractor and other equipment.

Daniel White, of Bettendorf, claims he was fired after bringing up safety concerns with a battery for autonomous tractors and other equipment.

In a statement from Deere & Company, Director, Public Relations & Enterprise Social Media Jen Hartmann states; ”John Deere denies the allegations made by Daniel White and plans to vigorously defend the company against these meritless allegations. In light of the pending litigation, we will not provide additional comment at this time.”

According to the suit filed by White’s attorney, he begin working for Deere & Company in February 2022 as the chief of electrification for Small Ag & Turf. White was hired with 24 years of experience in battery and battery system development, production management, battery testing and failure analysis, according to the suit.

White took a trip in June to Kreisel Electric Inc., a company Deere has majority ownership of, based in Austria that makes electric batteries. While there, the suit claims White found multiple safety issues or concerns.

One of the concerns included a problem with Kreisel’s immersion cooling. White claims the cells did not have an electrical insulation layer between them and the coolant; which could cause electrical shock, chemical reaction or an explosion.

According to the suit, White claimed testing the batteries should also be for “foreseeable misuse” he categorized as standard testing criteria.

White brought the concerns to leadership’s attention during a group meeting which included Jenny Preston, Director John Deere Electric Powertrain and CEO of Kreisel Electric, according to the suit.

Leadership from both Deere and Kreisel demanded the Kreisel batteries be used in the development of autonomous equipment without additional testing, the suit claimed.

White claims he sent a proposal for battery testing by a global engineering manager in October and he was terminated by Nov.1, according to the suit.

White claims the termination was a violation of a clear mandate of Illinois law and public policy of the state. White is suing for compensation.

The case is now pending with the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois, after being removed from Rock Island County Circuit Court where the lawsuit was originally filed.