26-Feb-2016 Source: OSHA
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has ordered an Alaska aviation company to pay years of back wages, $100,000 in compensatory damages, and to reinstate a 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. With 35-years of aviation experience, the pilot for the Homer-based company raised repeated safety concerns at work ranging from missed drug tests for pilots to poor recordkeeping.
“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.”
OSHA’s order requires Bald Mountain Air Services to:
1)Pay the employee back wages at the rate of $350 per day from November 2012 until he receives a bona fide offer of reinstatement.
2)Pay the employee $100,000 in compensatory damages for pain, suffering and mental distress.
3)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.
4)Not retaliate or discriminate against him in any manner, nor convey to a third party any mention of the employee’s protected activity.
5)Respondent shall post a notice to employees about federal whistleblower protections in both its Anchorage and Homer facilities.
Bald Mountain formerly provided medevac services to Alaska Regional Hospital in Anchorage.
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.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of more than 21 statutes protecting employees who report violations of various commercial motor carrier, airline, nuclear, pipeline, environmental, public transportation agency, consumer product, motor vehicle safety, railroad, maritime, health care reform, food safety, securities and financial reform laws.
Employees who believe that they have been retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the secretary of labor to request an investigation by OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program. Detailed information on employee whistleblower rights is available at http://www.whistleblowers.gov.