A Massachusetts pilot who was declined flight assignments and subsequently fired because he voiced safety concerns about a scheduling policy against Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations must now be reinstated.
OSHA is requiring the two companies, Jet Logistics Inc. and New England Life Flight Inc. doing business as Boston MedFlight, to give the worker's job back after he notified them of violations with a FAA policy requiring a pilot's time to rest.
“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.
In December 2015, the worker told the companies that a new scheduling policy possibly could conflict with required FAA rest time. The following January he contacted the agency to record his concerns, and was fired in March 2016 after turning down two flight assignments that he believed were against regulations.
OSHA investigators discovered the pilot was in fact terminated for reporting safety concerns, a protected activity under the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21stCentury (AIR21), according to the agency.
In addition to reinstating the employee, and clearing his personnel file of any reference to the issues involved in the investigation, OSHA also ordered Jet Logistics and New England Life Flight 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.
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 stated.