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March 22, 2018

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FAA and OSHA Enter into Agreement to Strengthen Enforcement of AIR21 Whistleblower Protection Law

The FAA and OSHA have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate coordination and cooperation concerning enforcement of the AIR21 whistleblower protection law.

The DOL and FAA both play a critical role in enforcing the whistleblower protection provision of AIR21. FAA has responsibility to investigate complaints related to air carrier safety and has authority under the FAA’s statute to enforce air safety regulations and issue sanctions to airmen and air carriers for noncompliance with these regulations. FAA enforcement action may include air carrier and/or airman certificate suspension and/or revocation and/or the imposition of civil penalties. Additionally, FAA may issue civil penalties for violations of 49 U.S.C. § 42121. OSHA has the responsibility to investigate employee complaints of discrimination and may order a violator to take affirmative action to abate the violation, reinstate the complainant to his or her former position with back pay, and award compensatory damages, including attorney fees.

Under the MOU, OSHA will promptly notify FAA of any AIR21 whistleblower retaliation complaints and will provide the FAA with all investigative findings and preliminary orders, investigation reports, and orders associated with any hearing or administrative appeal related to the complaint. And when a whistleblower notifies the FAA of retaliation involving air carrier safety, the FAA will promptly provide OSHA with a copy of the complaint and will advise the whistleblower that an AIR21 complaint must be filed with OSHA within 90 days of the retaliation. And the FAA will provide OSHA with the general results of any investigation conducted, to include whether or not FAA concluded there was a violation of a federal regulation, order, or standard relating to air carrier safety.

© 2018 Zuckerman Law


About this Author

Jason Zuckerman, Whistleblower Litigation Attorney, Washington DC  Law Firm

Jason Zuckerman is Principal of Zuckerman Law and litigates whistleblower retaliation, wrongful discharge, non-compete, and other employment-related claims.  Zuckerman serves as Plaintiff Co-Chair of the Whistleblower Subcommittee of the ABA Labor and Employment Section’s Employee Rights and Responsibilities Committee, and in 2012, the Secretary of Labor appointed Zuckerman to serve on the Whistleblower Protection Advisory Committee. 

Prior to founding Zuckerman Law, Zuckerman served as Senior Legal Advisor to the Special Counsel at the U.S...

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