This company learned the hard way that firing a whistleblower for voicing safety concerns can be very expensive.
OSHA has ordered Northern Illinois Flight Center of Lake in the Hills, IL, to pay a whistleblower more than $500,000 in back wages, benefits and damages after the company fired the employee.
The unidentified pilot says he was asked to falsify a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) form for a pilot certification training flight he performed with another pilot. Not all required elements were completed during the flight on Feb. 16, 2009, according to the pilot, so he couldn’t certify the form.
The whistleblower says his supervisors tried to coerce him into signing a backdated and incorrect form. He told his supervisors he wanted to contact the FAA to get clarification, and he did.
On April 7, 2009, the pilot was fired with no reason stated.
OSHA’s investigation found the whistleblower wouldn’t have been terminated if he hadn’t requested to meet with the FAA.
The flight center can appeal OSHA’s finding within 30 days.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of 22 federal statutes protecting employees who report violations of various laws. Companies are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise various concerns, including but not limited to those involving safety, to an employer or the federal government.