C. What Activity Is Protected Against Retaliation?
Your employer may not retaliate against you for providing information to or assisting in an investigation by the government or your employer regarding a potential violation of the laws of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) or any other federal law or regulation related to air carrier safety. The applicable FAA regulations are available at www.faa.gov.
Examples of protected activity include:
- Alerting the FAA that an aircraft was being flown past its maintenance threshold;
- Reporting that aircraft parts in warehouse bins did not contain the FAA required serviceable tag;
- Disclosing to your employer that maintenance records were falsified;
- Advocating the implementation of the Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS);
- Informing flight crew members that an aircraft tire was defective; and
- Reporting engine vibration, wing slat droop, cracked interior window covers, defective hydraulic reservoir, and missing wing placards.
Unlike ground transportation-related whistleblower statutes that expressly protect employees who refuse to work when conditions violate applicable laws, AIR21 contains no such provision. The Secretary of Labor, however, interprets the statute to provide some limited protection to employees who refuse to work. Namely, an employee is protected if he or she has a reasonable belief that his or her working conditions are unsafe, and he or she does not receive an adequate explanation from a responsible official that the conditions are safe and the employer is not violating any applicable laws or regulations.
Note that under AIR21 you must file a complaint of retaliation with any office of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) within 90 days of retaliatory actions by your employer.