March 28, 2018
U.S. Department of Labor Orders Reinstatement of Massachusetts Pilot
Who Lost Job after Reporting a Safety Concern
BOSTON, MA - The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has ordered Jet Logistics Inc. (JLI) and New England Life Flight Inc. - doing business as Boston MedFlight (BMF) - to reinstate a pilot who lost his job after complaining about what he reasonably believed were violations of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations.
While stationed at Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford in December 2015, the pilot first voiced to JLI and BMF his apprehension about whether a new scheduling policy would provide pilots with required FAA rest time. In January 2016, he contacted the FAA to register his concerns. He was terminated in March 2016 after he declined two flight assignments because he believed he had not been given the time to rest mandated by regulation.
An OSHA investigation concluded the pilot was terminated for reporting safety concerns, a protected activity under the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR21). In addition to reinstating the employee, and clearing his personnel file of any reference to the issues involved in the investigation, the Agency also ordered JLI and BMF to pay the pilot $133,616.09 in back wages and interest; $100,000 in compensatory damages; reasonable attorney fees; and to refrain from retaliating against the employee. The employers must also post a notice informing all employees of their whistleblower protections under AIR21.
“This pilot should be commended - not penalized - for raising legitimate safety concerns that can affect him, his co-workers, and the general public,” said Galen Blanton, OSHA Boston-area Regional Administrator.
The order may be appealed to the department's Office of Administrative Law Judges, but such action does not delay the effect of the preliminary reinstatement order.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of AIR21 and 21 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of airline, commercial motor vehicle, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, and securities laws. More information is available at www.whistleblowers.gov. For information about OSHA, visit http://www.osha.gov.
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Editor’s note: The U.S. Department of Labor does not release the names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints.
Release Number: 18-324-BOS
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