The case involves an employee who was fired after raising concerns about roaming charges assessed on international customers.

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The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has ordered Deutsche Telekom and its subsidiary T-Mobile USA to pay nearly $350,000 to a T-Mobile employee in Bellevue who had been fired in April 2009.

T-Mobile, though, issued a strong objection, calling the DOL’s conclusion preliminary and incorrect. The company said it plans to appeal.

The former T-Mobile employee had claimed the telecommunications company violated whistle-blower-protection provisions of federal law.

The worker had alleged “termination for raising concerns about the possibility of millions of dollars in fraudulent roaming charges being levied on hundreds of international corporate customers,” according to a Labor Department news release.

The Seattle office of the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration substantiated the employee’s claim that Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile violated whistle-blower protections set in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.

The department ordered T-Mobile to immediately reinstate the whistle-blower, pay $244,479 in back wages and interest, $65,000 in compensatory damages and $36,493 in attorney’s fees.

The company also must provide a neutral employment reference, post a notice about the Sarbanes-Oxley Act’s whistle-blower provisions and train employees on those provisions, according to the release.

T-Mobile responded with a statement, saying: “The U.S. DOL issued a preliminary administrative conclusion on Aug. 9 alleging that T-Mobile inappropriately terminated an employee in 2009 who ‘was fired for being a whistle-blower.’

“This preliminary conclusion is incorrect, not based on the evidence, and was made without the benefit of a trial process,” the company’s statement said. “T-Mobile will appeal this preliminary conclusion and looks forward to presenting its evidence at trial. T-Mobile acted appropriately and within the law in terminating the individual’s employment.”

T-Mobile — as well as the former employee — have 30 days to file an appeal to the DOL’s Office of Administrative Law Judges, said Deanne Amaden, a Labor Department spokeswoman.

The department did not look into the former employee’s allegation of fraudulent roaming charges, Amaden said, saying that task would likely fall under the purview of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Subscriber slide


NEW YORK — The long financial slide of T-Mobile USA continued in the latest quarter, as the country’s No. 4 cellphone company lost subscribers and struggled to sign people up for smartphones.

The company, a Bellevue-based subsidiary of Germany’s Deutsche Telekom, said Thursday that it lost a net 205,000 subscribers in the second quarter, a record for the period.

Among phone subscribers under contract, it lost 557,000 subscribers, also the highest number for any second quarter. Phone subscribers on contract-based plans pay the most, and are the bread and butter of large wireless carriers.

T-Mobile’s revenue from monthly fees on contract service fell 9 percent from a year ago. The larger wireless carriers — Verizon, AT&T and Sprint — all managed to increase this number in the second quarter.

While other big carriers rely on boosting smartphone use to raise monthly fees, the number of smartphone users at T-Mobile USA was flat from the first quarter, at 11.6 million.

Thanks to job cuts, T-Mobile continued to be profitable, with second-quarter net income of $207 million, nearly flat compared with $212 million a year ago.

Overall revenue fell 3 percent from a year ago to $4.9 billion.

The Associated Press