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A helicopter ambulance services company was fined more than $188,000 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for allegedly retaliating against a pilot who twice refused to fly in 2021 because of concerns about limited visibility, the agency said Tuesday.
OSHA said Tuesday the pilot complained that Shreveport, Louisiana-based Metro Aviation LLC forced the pilot to resign, retire or be involuntarily separated from the company two weeks after the Aug. 10, 2021, refusals, which occurred in Utah.
OSHA said following its whistleblower investigation its administrative review board held that Metro Aviation’s actions violated the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century, which protects employees who refuse to perform work assignments because they reasonably believe it would cause them to violate aviation safety regulations.
OSHA ordered the company to reinstate the pilot and pay him more than $171,000 in back wages and $17,000 in other damages.
The company and former employer have 30 days to file objections or request a hearing with the department’s Office of Administrative Law.
Metro Aviation part-owner Todd Stanberry issued a statement that said in part, “We take all matters involving the safety of our employees very seriously. Though we cannot speak at this time about this particular former employee's pending complaint, we respectfully disagree with OSHA's administrative determination and intend to seek a hearing before an administrative law judge who will consider all relevant evidence, including the FAA's determination that a violation of an FAA regulation or standard by Metro Aviation had not been substantiated.”