OSHA has ordered an Alaska aviation company to pay years of back wages and $100,000 in compensatory damages, and to reinstate a veteran pilot who had been suspended, then fired and ostracized among the close-knit industry for reporting safety concerns at work.
Bald Mountain Air Services violated federal whistleblower laws with its actions against the employee in 2012, according to OSHA. With 35-years of aviation experience, the pilot for the Homer, Alaska-based company raised repeated safety concerns at work ranging from missed drug tests for pilots to poor recordkeeping. In return for raising those concerns, he was fired. Potentially, the company could be forced to pay out more than $500,000 in compensation.
“Voicing safety concerns at work should never cost someone their job,” said OSHA Acting Regional Administrator Galen Blanton. “This employee should be hired back, compensated and treated fairly from here on out.”
Bald Mountain formerly provided medevac services to Alaska Regional Hospital in Anchorage. OSHA’s order requires Bald Mountain Air Services to:
- Pay the employee back wages at the rate of $350 per day from November 2012 until he receives a bona fide offer of reinstatement.
- Pay the employee $100,000 in compensatory damages for pain, suffering and mental distress.
- Expunge his employment records of any reference to the exercise of his rights under federal whistleblower law, and any reference to the adverse actions taken against him.
- Not retaliate or discriminate against him in any manner, nor convey to a third party any mention of the employee’s protected activity.
- Post a notice to employees about federal whistleblower protections in both its Anchorage and Homer facilities.
Both the respondent and complainant have 30 days from the receipt of these findings to file objections and to request a hearing before an administrative law judge. If no objections are filed, the findings will become final and not subject to court review.