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The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has ordered an Alaska aviation company to reinstate a pilot fired for reporting safety concerns and to pay back wages and damages that could total more than $500,000.
Homer, Alaska-based Bald Mountain Air Service violated federal whistleblower laws with its actions against the employee in 2012, who was suspended, fired and ostracized in the industry after repeatedly raising concerns about issues ranging from missed drug tests for pilots to poor recordkeeping, OSHA said Tuesday in a statement.
OSHA ordered the aviation company to pay the pilot back wages at the rate of $350 per day from November 2012 until he receives a bona fide offer of reinstatement and to pay the employee $100,000 in compensatory damages for pain, suffering and mental distress, according to the release. The agency also ordered the company to expunge any reference to his exercising his whistleblower rights and any adverse actions taken against him from his employment records, not to retaliate or discriminate against him in any manner, and to post notices to employees about federal whistleblower protections in both its Anchorage and Homer facilities.
“Voicing safety concerns at work should never cost someone their job,” Galen Blanton, OSHA acting regional administrator in Seattle, said in the statement. “This employee should be hired back, compensated and treated fairly from here on out.”
A company spokesperson could not be immediately reached for comment.
Whistleblowers will have an easier burden of proof to meet in the initial evaluations of their complaints under a recent update to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's whistleblower manual.