REVISED: Investigation finds American Airlines retaliated against flight attendants who reported worker illnesses caused by fumes in aircraft cabins
FORT WORTH, TX – Federal safety and health investigators have determined that one of the nation’s largest airlines retaliated against flight attendants who reported worker illnesses caused by toxic fumes entering aircraft cabins.
A whistleblower investigation initiated on Aug. 2, 2022, by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration found American Airlines Inc. retaliated against employees who filed complaints about the illnesses with the company. Flight attendants alleged the airline docked attendance points and discouraged them from reporting work-related injuries and illnesses.
OSHA proposed $6,837 in penalties following its investigation.
“Federal law protects workers’ rights to voice workplace safety and health concerns without the fear of retaliation,” said OSHA Area Director Timothy Minor in Fort Worth, Texas. “When employers punish employees for doing so, they create a chilling effect that may stop workers from reporting future issues, putting their health and well-being, and that of co-workers, at risk.”
“Our investigation found that the flight attendants engaged in protected activities when they reported illnesses related to jet fuel fumes seeping into the aircraft cabin,” Minor added. “Workers must feel empowered to inform managers and others about potential hazards that jeopardize workers’ safety and health.”
Based in Fort Worth, American Airlines Inc. operates an extensive international and domestic network with almost 6,800 flights to nearly 350 destinations in more than 50 countries. The company employs about 109,016 employees, including approximately 24,000 flight attendants.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program enforces the whistleblower provisions of more than 20 whistleblower statutes. These statutes protect employees from retaliation for reporting violations of various workplace safety and health, airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health insurance reform, motor vehicle safety, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime and securities laws; and for engaging in other related protected activities.
Learn more about OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Programs.
Editor’s note: This release has been revised to correctly state that the employee filed their complaint with American Airlines but not with the Federal Aviation Administration.