U.S. Labor Department's OSHA orders Southern Air Inc. to withdraw retaliatory lawsuit and pay more than $7.9 million to 9 whistleblowers

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has ordered Southern Air Inc., a Norwalk, Conn.-based air cargo carrier, to withdraw a lawsuit it filed against nine former employees and pay them more than $7.9 million in wages, damages and legal fees.

Southern Air filed a defamation lawsuit against the former employees in Connecticut Superior Court in May 2008 after some of the workers raised air carrier safety concerns with Southern Air, OSHA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The workers, all former flight crew members, subsequently filed a whistleblower complaint with OSHA.

OSHA's investigation found that the company's lawsuit was filed in retaliation for the workers' protected activities under the whistleblower provisions of the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR21).

"This order sends a strong and clear message that these and other workers have the right to raise safety issues with their employers and regulatory agencies without fear of retaliation and intimidation," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "The Labor Department will vigorously investigate such allegations and, where merited, order appropriate remedies for workers."

As a result of its investigation, OSHA issued a notice of findings and order to Southern Air directing the airline to do the following:

1. Withdraw its lawsuit.


2. Pay the complainants $6,004,000 in lost future earnings, $1,800,000 in compensatory damages and $129,789 in legal fees and costs.


3. Purge each complainant's personnel file and other records of all warnings, reprimands or derogatory references resulting from protected whistleblower activity.


4. Refrain from mentioning the complainants' protected whistleblower activity or conveying any damaging information in response to third party inquiries.


5. Provide all Southern Air crew members with copies of the FAA Whistleblower Protection Program poster and OSHA's notice to employees, and post these in each Southern Air facility.


The complainants and the airline have 30 days from receipt of the findings to file an appeal with the Labor Department's Office of Administrative Law Judges.

Comments

  1. This company has had repeated infractions with the law dating back to the Iran Contra affair.

    But what kind of company sues their employees for reporting violations to federal authorities? I can tell you from experience it is a company that has alot to hide.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Or maybe a bunch of employees who are looking for a free ride?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Or maybe an employer that willfully breaks the law?

    ReplyDelete
  4. SAI has the nerve to appeal OSHA's findings with 30 objections. One of which claiming that none of the nine complainants were whistleblowers because they did not file the complaints until 92 days after they fraudulent lawsuit was filed. Their attorney is about as delusional as SAI's management. He as also had the judge ordered one complainant to turn over correspondence with Congressional representatives which is illegal under the "Speech and Debate" clause of the US Constitution. Apparently this partial judge and SAI's attorney are not familiar with our Constitution. An investigation from the House General Council has been ordered.

    ReplyDelete

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