ORLANDO, FL – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ordered Orlando-based SIMCOM Training Centers to reinstate a flight instructor who was terminated after he raised concerns about potential violations of Federal Aviation Administration regulations.
An OSHA investigation found that SIMCOM terminated the flight instructor for repeatedly raising safety concerns, a protected activity under the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR21). The instructor was harassed, denied opportunities to train students, and ultimately terminated in April 2014.
In addition to reinstating the employee and clearing his personnel file of any reference to the issues involved in the investigation, OSHA ordered the company to pay $201,882 in back wages and interest, $100,000 in compensatory damages, and reasonable attorney fees; and to refrain from retaliating against the employee. The employer must also post a notice informing all employees of their whistleblower protections under AIR21.
“Employees have the right to voice concerns of unsafe working conditions without the fear of retaliation,” said Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA Regional Administrator. “This order underscores the U.S. Department of Labor’s commitment to protect workers who exercise their right to ensure workplace safety.”
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of AIR21 and 21 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, motor vehicle safety, healthcare reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, and securities laws. For more information on whistleblower protections, visit OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Programs webpage.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.