Manassas, Va., air carrier ordered to reinstate pilot and pay damages
following whistle-blower reprisal investigation
MANASSAS, Va. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has ordered Metropolitan Aviation LLC to reinstate a pilot after a whistle-blower investigation determined the Manassas-based air carrier violated the pilot's rights when he was fired for reporting an emergency landing.
The pilot filed a complaint with OSHA alleging retaliation for a protected activity under the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century, the aviation industry whistle-blower law known as AIR21. An investigation conducted by OSHA's Philadelphia Regional Office found merit to the pilot's complaint.
"Pilots are protected by law when they refuse to fly an aircraft determined to be unairworthy," said MaryAnn Garrahan, OSHA's regional administrator in Philadelphia. "Air carriers that retaliate against employees for exercising their rights under AIR21 will be held accountable."
As a result of OSHA's findings, the company was ordered to pay back wages in the amount of more than $140,000 for the period from June 30, 2010, through June 30, 2013. Thereafter, the company will pay at a rate of $797 per week until it has made the complainant a bona fide offer of reinstatement. The company was also ordered to pay compensatory damages in the amount of $75,000. Additionally, OSHA ordered the air carrier to take other corrective action, including expunging the complainant's termination and any reference to the exercise of his rights under AIR21 from his employment records, and the posting and providing to its employees information on their AIR21 whistle-blower rights. OSHA also ordered Metropolitan Aviation to pay attorney's fees and interest on the back wages.
Metropolitan Aviation and the complainant have 30 days from receipt of the findings to file an appeal with the department's Office of Administrative Law Judges.
OSHA enforces the whistle-blower provisions of AIR21 and 21 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various securities laws, trucking, airline, nuclear power, pipeline, environmental, rail, public transportation, workplace safety and health, and consumer protection laws. Detailed information on employee whistle-blower rights, including fact sheets, is available online 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 U.S. Department of Labor does not release names of employees involved in whistle-blower complaints.
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U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 303-693-7838 or TTY 303-693-7755.