The Labor Department said Exxon illegally fired two scientists suspected of leaking information to the Wall Street Journal.

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The US Labor Department said Friday that ExxonMobil has issued a reinstatement order for two scientists who were fired after they were suspected of leaking information to the Wall Street Journal.

A federal whistle-blower investigation found that the oil and gas giant illegally terminated the accounting scientist in late 2020. The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration also ordered ExxonMobil to pay more than $800,000 in back wages, interest and compensation.

that Article in the Wall Street Journal Last year, ExxonMobil claimed it had inflated estimates of its production and the value of oil and gas wells in the Texas Permian Basin, where much of the US production is located. Located. The story examined the company’s assumption in 2019 SEC filings that drilling speed would increase significantly in the next five years.

Exxon denied the allegations at the time, asserting that it was hitting its own drilling targets.

“The speed that employees claimed was impossible, was not only possible, but we achieved that speed three years earlier than the plan they questioned,” Exxon spokesman Casey Norton told the Wall Street Journal on Friday. Exxon did not immediately respond to CNN Business’s request for comment.

The two anonymous employees raised concerns about the company’s use of these assumptions in late 2020, according to a Department of Labor statement. The Department of Labor said Exxon alleged it fired one scientist for “mishandling the company’s proprietary information,” and the other “For having a ‘negative attitude’, looking for other jobs and losing the confidence of the company’s management.”

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Although none of the employees was disclosed as the source for the magazine story, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has learned that the company knows that a scientist was a relative of a source cited in the Wall Street Journal article and had access to the leaked information.

“ExxonMobil’s actions are unacceptable. The integrity of the US financial system depends on companies to accurately report their financial health and assets,” said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker.

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