A former Deere employee sued the company after being fired and retaliating over safety concerns

ROCK ISLAND Co., Ill. (KWQC) – A former Deere & Company employee is suing, claiming he was fired in retaliation for raising safety concerns with batteries used in electric tractors and other equipment.

Daniel White, of Bettendorf, claims he was fired after he raised safety concerns with batteries for autonomous tractors and other equipment.

According to the lawsuit filed by White’s attorney, he will start working at Deere & Company as the head of Small Ag & Turf in February 2022. According to the lawsuit, White was hired with 24 years of experience in battery and battery system development, production management, battery testing and failure analysis.

In June, he visited Kreisel Electric Inc., the majority-owned subsidiary of Deere in Austria, which makes electric batteries. While there, the lawsuit claims White found a number of safety issues or concerns.

One of the concerns involved Kreisel’s immersion cooling problem. White claims that the cells did not have an electrically insulating layer between them and the coolant; causing electric shock, chemical reaction or explosion.

According to the lawsuit, White argued that the batteries should also be tested for “unpredictable use,” which he categorized as standard testing criteria.

According to the lawsuit, White brought the concerns to the attention of management at a team meeting that included Jenny Preston, CEO of John Deere Electric and CEO of Kreisel Electric.

Management of both Deere and Kreisel demanded that Kreisel’s batteries be used in the development of autonomous equipment without further testing, the lawsuit alleges.

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

White contends that the termination was a violation of the clear mandate of Illinois law and state public policy. White is suing for damages.

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

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