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Agreement helps shield aviation employees from retaliation


The Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration have agreed to cooperate to expediently investigate complaints of discrimination made by aviation industry employees providing air safety information.

The FAA and OSHA agreed in the memorandum of understanding, issued Dec. 1, to share complaint information that falls under the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century, which prohibits airline industry employers from retaliating against employees who report or testify on industry safety issues.

The FAA and OSHA each have a responsibility to support the act, the act says. The FAA is required to investigate complaints of violations involving flight safety and can issue sanctions to airmen and air carriers for noncompliance, while OSHA is required to investigate employee complaints of discrimination and may order a violation if necessary.

OSHA agreed to notify the FAA of any discrimination complaints filed with the Department of Labor under the act and will promptly provide FAA with a copy of the complaint, including contact information for the individual filing the complaint, the memorandum states.

Likewise, the FAA agrees to promptly provide OSHA with a copy of any complaint of alleged discrimination that involves air carrier safety, including contact information for the individual filing the complaint.

OSHA and the FAA also agreed to give each other a complaint summary at least every quarter, and to meet at least once a year to discuss the performance under the memorandum, investigation coordination issues, and other potential whistleblower investigation improvements beneficial to both agencies, the memorandum said.