OSHA has ordered Southern Air Inc., a cargo airline headquartered in Norwalk, Conn., to pay more than $400,000 in lost wages, back pay, damages and legal fees to compensate a flight crew member who was terminated for raising safety concerns protected under the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR21), according to an agency press release.
The employee was terminated in April 2008 after twice complaining to management about inadequate rest breaks and being required to work hours in excess of those allowed under Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules. The employee then filed a whistleblower complaint with OSHA’s Boston Regional Office.
OSHA’s investigation found merit to the complaint, and the agency has issued a Notice of Secretary’s Findings and Preliminary Order to Southern Air that directs the air carrier to pay the complainant $300,000 for loss of career wages, $135,240 in compensatory damages, $7,394.65 in attorney’s fees and back pay of $1,485 per week, plus interest, from April 7, 2008, through the date of payment. The company is also ordered to post the FAA whistleblower poster and an OSHA notice to employees about their whistleblower rights.
Both the complainant and the airline have 30 days from receipt of the findings to file an appeal with the Labor Department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges.
Detailed information on employee whistleblower rights, including fact sheets, is available online at:http://www.osha.gov/dep/oia/whistleblower/index.html.