U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR ORDERS JETBLUE TO REINSTATE AND PAY BACK WAGES AND DAMAGES TO FLIGHT ATTENDANT
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has ordered JetBlue Corporation to reinstate and compensate a flight attendant who was fired for raising safety concerns about a flight. The order requires JetBlue Corporation to clear the affected personnel file and pay $143,783.66 in back pay, compensatory damages, and attorneys’ fees, and post a notice informing all employees of their whistleblower protections.
On July 15, 2015, a passenger aboard a flight scheduled to leave from John F. Kennedy International Airport remarked about a perceived safety violation. In response, the attendant exited the plane onto the jet way to contact a supervisor for guidance on addressing the safety concern. JetBlue fired the attendant in September 2015, in part, for stepping off the plane, and making the call from the jet way.
An OSHA investigation concluded that the attendant’s whistleblower activity, which is protected under the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR21), was a contributing factor in the termination.
JetBlue can appeal the order before the Department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges, but such action does not delay the effect of the preliminary reinstatement order.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of AIR21 and 21 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of airline, commercial motor vehicle, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, and securities laws. More information is available at www.whistleblowers.gov. For information about OSHA, visit www.osha.gov.
# # #
Editor’s note: The U.S. Department of Labor does not release the names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints.