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December 23, 2015
Contact: Office of Communications
Phone: 202-693-1999

OSHA, Federal Aviation Administration sign agreement on joint
responsibilities for protecting airline workers from retaliation

WASHINGTON - The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding that allows the agencies to share information regarding the anti-retaliation provision under the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR21). The act prohibits air carriers and air carrier contractors and subcontractors from firing or retaliating against airline workers who complain about violations of aviation regulations.

"Airline industry employees have a right to speak out about unsafe workplaces and practices without fear of losing their jobs," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "Through this agreement with the FAA, we are reinforcing the message that silencing workers who try to do the right thing is unacceptable for workers and also unsafe for the public."

OSHA and FAA each play a specialized role in protecting the safety of airline workers. OSHA investigates employee complaints of retaliation by air carriers, contractors and subcontractors and can order a violator to stop the retaliation, reinstate the complainant to his or her former position and pay damages including back pay and attorney fees. FAA is responsible for investigating complaints related to air carrier safety, enforcing air safety regulations and issuing sanctions to airmen and air carriers for violating these regulations.

"This updated agreement between the FAA and OSHA demonstrates our renewed commitment to an important program, which is designed to protect aviation industry employees against retaliation by their employers for reporting safety violations," said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

Under the MOU, FAA will refer employees who complain of retaliation to OSHA, and OSHA will provide FAA with copies of complaints, findings and preliminary orders filed under the AIR21 whistleblower provision. The agencies will provide each other with a summary of all complaints received at least once per quarter. Additionally, OSHA and FAA will develop training to assist FAA enforcement staff in recognizing retaliation complaints and OSHA enforcement staff in recognizing potential violations of airline safety regulations revealed during investigations.

OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of 22 statutes protecting employees who report violations of various workplace, commercial motor vehicle, airline, nuclear, pipeline, environmental, railroad, public transportation, maritime, consumer product, motor vehicle safety, health care reform, corporate securities, food safety and consumer financial reform regulations. Additional 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 www.osha.gov.

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