OSHA Reinstates Fired Pilot


A pilot who was fired after complaining about the rest time allotted by his employer has been reinstated by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The pilot, whose name has not been released, “reasonably believed” a new scheduling policy initiated by Boston MedFlight might not provide pilots with the rest time required by the FAA, OSHA said. While stationed at Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford, Massachusetts, in December 2015, the pilot told his employers about his apprehension about whether a new scheduling policy would provide pilots with required FAA rest time. In January 2016, he contacted the FAA to register his concerns. He was terminated in March 2016 after he declined two flight assignments because he believed he had not been given the time to rest mandated by regulation. “This pilot should be commended — not penalized — for raising legitimate safety concerns that can affect him, his co-workers, and the general public,” said Galen Blanton, regional administrator for OSHA in the Boston area.

OSHA’s investigation concluded the pilot was terminated for reporting safety concerns, a protected activity under federal law. In addition to reinstating the employee, and clearing his personnel file of any reference to the issues involved in the investigation, OSHA also ordered the employers to pay the pilot $133,616.09 in back wages and interest, $100,000 in compensatory damages and reasonable attorney fees, and to refrain from retaliating against the employee. The employers must also post a notice informing all employees of their whistleblower protections under the law. The employers told BusinessInsurance.com they will appeal OSHA’s decision. “The individual was not an employee of ours,” a spokesman for Boston MedFlight said in an email. “We contest and disagree with facts stated in the decision. We address any safety concern raised with the greatest sense of urgency.”