American Airlines retaliated against employees who reported toxic fumes, OSHA says
FORT WORTH, Texas — Federal investigators allege that American Airlines, one of the nation's largest airlines, retaliated against flight attendants who reported illnesses caused by toxic fumes, CBS DFW's Alex Keller reports.
According to a Department of Labor spokesperson, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) launched a whistleblower investigation into the Fort Worth-based airline on Aug. 2, 2022, after flight attendants who reported their concerns were allegedly docked attendance points and discouraged from reporting work-related injuries or illnesses.
Following the investigation, OSHA proposed that American Airlines pay $6,837 in penalties. The company now has 15 business days to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director Timothy Minor, or formally contest the filings in front of an independent commission.
Minor said in a statement that the airline's actions violated federal laws that protect workers who report health and safety concerns from retaliation and that their actions may have created "a chilling effect that may stop workers from reporting future issues, putting their health and well-being, and that of co-workers, at risk."
"Our investigation found that the flight attendants engaged in protected activities when they reported illnesses related to jet fuel fumes seeping into the aircraft cabin," he added. "Workers must feel empowered to inform managers and others about potential hazards that jeopardize workers' safety and health."
Under federal law, whistleblowers are protected from retaliation for reporting workplace safety violations and other concerns. (More information about OSHA's whistleblower protection programs is available online.)
In a statement to CBS 11, American Airlines said "The safety of our team members and customers is always American's top priority. We are reviewing the findings of the OSHA investigation."
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