Employee sues Washington State Ferries, alleges retaliation

VIDEO: Lawsuit claims WSF punished employee who spoke up about taxpayer waste

An employee with Washington State Ferries filed a lawsuit against his supervisors, saying they retaliated against him after he spoke up about taxpayer waste.

In an interview with KIRO 7 News, Alex Zecha called his lawsuit “the nuclear option.”

The career engineer said he had twice been passed up for a promotion because he insisted he spoke truth to power.

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“Is it important that I stay in the good graces of management?” Zecha asked rhetorically. “I felt it was more important to get what we paid for."

Zecha said the trouble started when he noticed important software hadn’t been installed on certain ferries.

By not having those systems in place, he said WSF was in violation of the construction contract.

In the process, he insisted tax dollars weren’t being spent the way they were supposed to be used, all while ships weren’t being fitted with the best technology.

“The failure rate of our vessels has doubled than what it was 10 to 15 years ago. That’s a problem," he remarked.

When Zecha brought his worries to management, he said they were slow to act.

Then he claimed they held a grudge against him for speaking up and denied him a pair of promotions.

“I felt at that time that my actions were protected by the state whistleblower law. I still feel that,” Zecha told KIRO 7 News.

Zecha is now suing WSF, alleging retaliation.

KIRO 7 News reached out to WSF for comment.

They didn’t want to go on camera.

In a statement, they told us, “It’s WSF policy to ensure equal opportunity will be practiced in all employment actions including... promotions.”

Despite the lawsuit, Zecha is still working at WSF.

At this time, he said he has no plans to leave.

One of the things he said he is asking is to be paid the extra money he would’ve gotten if he had been promoted.