On July 15, 2015, a passenger aboard a flight scheduled to leave from John F. Kennedy International Airport in Boston mentioned a perceived safety violation to a flight attendant. In response, the attendant exited the plane onto the jet way to contact a supervisor for guidance on addressing the safety concern. JetBlue fired the attendant - in part, for stepping off the plane and making the call from the jet way.
An OSHA investigation concluded that the attendant’s whistleblower activity, which is protected under the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR21), was a contributing factor in the termination.
The agency has ordered JetBlue Corporation to reinstate and compensate the flight attendant, to clear the affected personnel file and pay $143,783.66 in back pay, compensatory damages, and attorneys’ fees. The company must also post a notice informing all employees of their whistleblower protections.
JetBlue can appeal the order before the Department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges, but such action does not delay the effect of the preliminary reinstatement order.