The United States Department of Labor has ordered the Northern Illinois Flight Center in Lake in the Hills pay more than $500,000 in back wages, benefits and damages to a pilot they dismissed in 2009.
The Department of Labor determined the pilot was illegally terminated after he contacted the Federal Aviation Administration to discuss violations of the pilot certification process, according to a news release.
"Firing pilots for reporting inaccurate procedures to the FAA endangers other pilots, their passengers and the public at large," said David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, in a press release. "The Labor Department has a responsibility to protect all employees, including those in the aviation industry, from retaliation for raising safety concerns and exercising these basic worker rights."
The pilot alleges he was asked to falsify an FAA form for pilot certification for a training flight he performed with another pilot, according to the news release.
He said not all the required elements were completed during the training flight on Feb. 16, 2009 so he could not OK the form, the press release said. Then, on March 23, the pilot said Northern Illinois Flight Center supervisors attempted to talk him into signing a backdated and incorrect form.
The pilot told his supervisors he wanted to contact the FAA to clarify the issue. He did end up contact the FAA between March 25 and 27 and was terminated on April 7. He said he was not given a reason for his termination, according to the news release.
The OSHA's Chicago office conducted an investigation into the allegations and "found that he would not have been terminated if he had not requested to meet with the FAA for the purpose of discussing the pilot certification process and forms," according to the news release.
Northern Illinois Flight Center is based in Lake in the Hills and employs pilots to fly aircraft for the transportation of passengers and property.