Investigation finds American Airlines retaliated against whistleblower flight attendants
Employees had reported worker illnesses caused by fumes in aircraft cabins
January 19, 2023
Federal safety and health investigators have determined that one of the nation's largest airlines retaliated against flight attendants who reported worker illnesses caused by toxic fumes entering aircraft cabins.
A whistleblower investigation initiated on Aug. 2, 2022, by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration found American Airlines Inc. retaliated against employees who filed complaints about the illnesses with the company and Federal Aviation Administration. Flight attendants alleged the airline docked attendance points and discouraged them from reporting work-related injuries and illnesses.
"Federal law protects workers' rights to voice workplace safety and health concerns without the fear of retaliation," said OSHA Area Director Timothy Minor in Fort Worth, Texas. "When employers punish employees for doing so, they create a chilling effect that may stop workers from reporting future issues, putting their health and well-being, and that of co-workers, at risk."
"Our investigation found that the flight attendants engaged in protected activities when they reported illnesses related to jet fuel fumes seeping into the aircraft cabin," Minor added. "Workers must feel empowered to inform managers and others about potential hazards that jeopardize workers' safety and health."
Based in Fort Worth, American Airlines Inc. operates an extensive international and domestic network with almost 6,800 flights to nearly 350 destinations in more than 50 countries. The company employs about 109,016 employees, including approximately 24,000 flight attendants.