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Northern Illinois Flight Center Ordered to Reinstate and Pay Whistleblower over $500,000 after He Was Terminated for Complaining About Violations of the Pilot Certification Process

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Following an investigation conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) the Northern Illinois Flight Center has been ordered to reinstate an Illinois pilot and pay him over $500,000 in back pay, benefits and damages. OSHA found that the flight center violated the whistleblower protection provision of the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR21) when it terminated the pilot after he contacted the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regarding violations of the pilot certification process.

According to the pilot, on February 16, 2009 he was allegedly asked to falsify a pilot certification form for a training flight he had performed with another pilot. However, he maintained that he could not certify the form because all required elements had not been completed during the training flight. Then on March 23, 2009, his supervisor attempted to coerce him into signing a backdated and incorrect form. The pilot informed his supervisor that he wanted to directly contact the FAA to discuss the pilot certification process and forms, which he did between March 25 and 27. Following his contact with the FAA Flight Standards District, he was terminated on April 7 and provided with no reason for his termination.

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels stated:

“Firing pilots for reporting inaccurate procedures to the FAA endangers other pilots, their passengers and the public at large… The Labor Department has a responsibility to protect all employees, including those in the aviation industry, from retaliation for raising safety concerns and exercising these basic worker rights.”

The Employment Law Group® law firm has an extensive nationwide whistleblower practice representing employees who have been victims of retaliation.

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