Caterpillar Executive: I Was Demoted For Snitching
A few months ago ’60 Minutes’ ran an interesting piece about large American corporations, including General Electric, who set up shop in Europe and on other foreign soil to avoid massive taxing by the federal government.
Shady? Yes. Un-American? You bet. Fiscally smart? Yep.
Countries like Switzerland offer a chance for companies to save billions of dollars in paid taxes because they have offices and do business overseas. And if companies are willing to avert paying significant taxes, we weren’t surprised to hear about a lawsuit filed against Caterpillar by one of its executives.
Why would an executive file a lawsuit against his own company? Occupational hazard, right? Well, because of another occupational hazard:
Daniel J. Schlicksup, 49, sued in U.S. District Court in Peoria, Illinois, in 2009, claiming he was moved to a job that limits his career opportunities because he complained to superiors that the “Swiss Structure” ran afoul of U.S. tax rules.
“Hey, boss, I just wanted to let you know that you guys are breaking laws and I demand something be done about it” is generally not going to fast track you to the board of directors.
But Schlicksup did the right thing. Caterpillar was essentially avoiding paying $2 billion and his former job as “global tax strategy manager” made him feel compelled to do something about it.
Obviously, Caterpillar is on the defensive, saying its done no wrong and that Schlicksup’s transfer was not a demotion. Sounds like he got the Milton treatment.
Either way, tough break for Schlicksup. But he’s suing to get his old job back — which is probably another occupational hazard.
Bloomberg has a very detailed account of what’s going on with this suit.