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OSHA finds airline in violation of whistleblower protections (1/6)

January 6, 2009
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OSHA has ordered American Airlines Inc. to reimburse two pilots for sick time, interest and any other benefits associated with sick time following an investigation into the pilots’ allegations that the company retaliated against them for reporting they were too sick to fly, according to an OSHA press release.

The investigation found that, in both cases, the airline erred in rejecting medical documentation provided by the pilots and illegally recouped sick pay already paid to the pilots.

“A policy that forces pilots to make a choice between flying when they are too sick to do so or being retaliated against violates the law,” said Charles E. Adkins, OSHA’s regional administrator in Kansas City, Mo. “While OSHA is best known for ensuring the safety and health of employees, it is also the federal government’s main whistleblower protection agency.”

The airline was further ordered to provide whistleblower rights information to its employees. Either party in the case can file an appeal to the Labor Department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges.

OSHA conducted the investigation under the whistleblower provisions of the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century, known as AIR21. U.S. air carriers are subject to the provisions of AIR21, which protects employees who report violations of federal aviation regulations or engage in other activities protected by the act.

Detailed information on employee whistleblower rights, including fact sheets, is available online at: http://www.osha.gov/dep/oia/whistleblower/index.html.

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