On January 4, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced that the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found that American Airlines, Inc. retaliated against flight attendants who raised concerns about illnesses caused by toxic fumes.
OSHA began an investigation on August 2, 2022, and found that American Airlines “retaliated against employees who filed complaints about the illnesses with the company and Federal Aviation Administration.” According to the news release, “[f]light attendants alleged the airline docked attendance points and discouraged them from reporting work-related injuries and illnesses.”
After OSHA investigated, the agency “proposed $6,837 in penalties.” American Airlines “has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission,” the news release states.
“Federal law protects workers’ rights to voice workplace safety and health concerns without the fear of retaliation,” said OSHA Area Director Timothy Minor in Fort Worth, Texas. “When employers punish employees for doing so, they create a chilling effect that may stop workers from reporting future issues, putting their health and well-being, and that of co-workers, at risk.
“Our investigation found that the flight attendants engaged in protected activities when they reported illnesses related to jet fuel fumes seeping into the aircraft cabin,” Minor added. “Workers must feel empowered to inform managers and others about potential hazards that jeopardize workers’ safety and health.”
OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program enforces 25 whistleblower statutes, conducts investigations, and issues decisions regarding whistleblowers.