Crown Castle’s Federal Sales Director says he was fired in retaliation for whistleblowing

In Featured News by Wireless Estimator


CLAIMS HE WAS HIRED AND FIRED FOR HIS EXPERTISE – Whistleblower Matthew Foosaner, a former Director of Federal Sales for Crown Castle has filed a lawsuit against the company, claiming that he was terminated because he exposed government contracting sales concerns. He was let go shortly after an executive allegedly informed him, “Matt, you need to stop talking to people about this compliance stuff. You are scaring people.” 

A US District Court judge for the Eastern District of Virginia, on August 23, 2023, denied Crown Castle USA, Inc.’s request to dismiss a whistleblower’s complaint for failure to make a claim, and the company is now required to answer Matthew Foosaner’s amended complaint by September 15, 2023.

Foosaner alleges one count of retaliation against Crown Castle according to the Defense Contractor Whistleblower Protection Act (CDWPA).

He claims that during his job interview, he emphasized that from previous employment, he was experienced in Defense Federal Acquisition Regulations (DFARS), and if Crown Castle was not compliant with DFARS, it was not authorized to sell to US agencies subject to the DFARS. He said he made the statement because he knew Crown Castle had already sold fiber optic circuits to government agencies.

He states he was informed at that time that DFARS compliance would not be one of his responsibilities.

However, on October 16, 2018, before his employment, Foosaner was requested by Crown Castle to provide a second interview with management concerning the compliance requirements under DFARS. He gave a 20-page presentation on DFARS compliance requirements, including the mandatory nature of reporting and a reporting capability requirement for any service provider whose network carriers “covered defense information.”

On November 7, 2018, Foosaner was offered and accepted the Director of Federal Sales position.

Foosaner said that on November 26, 2018, he participated in a telephone conference with management, and they “admitted they were unfamiliar with the DFARS regulation.”

Foosaner said he became concerned during the call because he found out that Crown Castle individuals were meeting with representatives of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DISA) as a current customer, and Crown Castle “designed and serviced circuits to prime contractors that were integrated and resold to agencies pursuant to contracts covered under contracts governed by the DFARS.”

During a November 27, 2018 sales meeting, sales representatives named several Crown Castle clients, which included defense agencies that would require all contracts to comply with relevant information and security provisions of the DFARS.

Also, Foosaner informed management that “the company cannot continue selling to defense agencies without complying with DFARS.”

Foosaner alleges that before that sales meeting, Michelle Kavey, the Head of Government and Education Crown Castle Fiber, said, “Matt, you need to stop talking to people about this compliance stuff. You are scaring people.”

On December 6, 2018, Foosaner raised concerns about existing Department of Defense compliance issues, including DFARS, during a telephone call with David Hurwitz, Regional Vice President of Sales. He also said that he had been invited to meet with representatives of DISA the following day to discuss his expertise in defense and technology acquisitions.

Foosaner’s complaint states that within an hour of Hurwitz learning of his upcoming meeting with DISA, Hurwitz scheduled a meeting at Crown Castle the following morning at 10:00 a.m.

After arriving at the office on December 7, 2018, he was immediately terminated “for cause” for alleged unprofessional conduct.

On April 17, 2019, Foosaner filed a complaint with the Inspector General Department of Defense Hotline, alleging Crown Castle’s reprisal for protected disclosures made to management officials.

However, on May 13, 2020, Nilgun Tolek, Director of Whistleblower Reprisal Investigations, said the evidence reviewed did not support Foosaner’s complaint.

Tolek said that Foosaner did not, prior to any qualifying personnel action, disclose to any government officials having the responsibility to investigate, discover, or address misconduct:
• gross mismanagement of a DoD contract or grant,
• a gross waste of Defense funds,
• a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety, or
• a violation of law, rule or regulation, or an abuse of authority relating to a DoD contract or grant.

Foosaner filed his lawsuit in Virginia on May 10, 2022, and his first amended complaint on August 2, 2022.

Judge Rossie D. Alston, Jr.’s denial of Crown Castle’s motion to dismiss is available here.