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OSHA News Release: [07/18/2012]
Contact Name: Michael D'Aquino or Michael Wald
Phone Number: (617) 565-2075
Release Number: 12-1148-NEW
US Labor Department's OSHA orders Ameriflight to reinstate and compensate Puerto Rico-based pilot discharged for raising safety concerns
NEW YORK The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has ordered Ameriflight, LLC, , a Burbank, Calif.-based air carrier, and its subsidiary, Ameriflight, PR, Inc., to reinstate and provide compensation to a Puerto Rico-based pilot who was discharged for raising safety concerns and for contacting the Federal Aviation Administration about those concerns.
"This employee was clearly engaged in activity protected under the law, yet he was still punished professionally and financially for raising safety concerns," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York, whose office has jurisdiction over Puerto Rico. "Air carriers must understand that penalizing employees who raise safety concerns with their supervisors or regulators is unacceptable. We will investigate any such claims of retaliation and discrimination and, where merited, order appropriate relief."
Before he was terminated from his job in January 2010, the pilot repeatedly had raised concerns with his superiors about improper fuel calculations for planes flying from the carrier's San Juan base. He also refused to pilot a flight because of those concerns, voiced his concerns in an email to management and his fellow pilots, and requested a legal opinion from the Federal Aviation Administration.
OSHA initiated an investigation upon receiving a complaint from the pilot, which found that his activities are protected under the whistleblower provisions of the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century, known as AIR21, and that his termination was in retaliation for those activities.
As a result, OSHA has ordered Ameriflight to take the following corrective actions: reinstate the complainant to his former position as pilot, with all rights, seniority and benefits he would have enjoyed had he never been discharged; expunge his personnel records of any reference to his protected activities and the adverse actions taken against him; pay back wages and bonuses, plus interest; pay $15,350 in compensatory damages; refrain from discriminating against him in any manner for any proceedings initiated under AIR21; post a notice to employees of their AIR21 rights; and distribute an AIR21 OSHA whistleblower fact sheet to all employees who received the complainant's email.
Each party has 30 days from receipt of the findings to request a hearing with the department's Office of Administrative Law Judges.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of AIR21 as well as 21 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various rail, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, maritime and securities laws. Employees who believe that they have been retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the secretary of labor for an investigation by OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program. Detailed employee rights information is available at http://www.whistleblowers.gov.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
Editor's note: The Labor Department does not release names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints.
- Read this news release en Español.