The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has ordered an Alaska aviation company to pay years of back wages, along with $100,000 in compensatory damages, and to reinstate a pilot who had been suspended and fired. OSHA also stated that the pilot was ostracised among the close-knit industry for reporting safety concerns at work.
According to OSHA, Bald Mountain Air Services violated federal whistleblower laws with its actions against the employee in 2012. With 35-years of aviation experience, the pilot for the Homer-based company raised repeated safety concerns at work, ranging from missed drug tests for pilots to poor recordkeeping, said the agency.
Galen Blanton, OSHA acting regional administrator, said: “Voicing safety concerns at work should never cost someone their job. This employee should be hired back, compensated and treated fairly from here on out.”
OSHA’s order requires Bald Mountain Air Services to pay the employee back wages at the rate of $350 per day from November 2012 until he receives ‘a bona fide offer of reinstatement’. The company has also been told pay the employee $100,000 in compensatory damages for pain, suffering and mental distress, and to expunge his employment records of any reference to the exercise of his rights under federal whistleblower law, and any reference to the adverse actions taken against him. Bald Mountain Air Services must not retaliate or discriminate against the pilot in any manner, nor convey to a third party any mention of the employee’s protected activity, and must post a notice to employees about federal whistleblower protections in both its Anchorage and Homer facilities, said OSHA.
Bald Mountain formerly provided medevac services to Alaska Regional Hospital in Anchorage.
The pilot and the company were given 30 days to file any objections to the findings or to request a hearing before an administrative law judge.