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Lake in the Hills-based flight center ordered to pay, reinstate pilot fired in 2009

LAKE IN THE HILLS – A pilot fired more than three years ago will be reinstated and paid more than $500,000 after investigators determined he was illegally terminated from the Lake in the Hills-based Northern Illinois Flight Center, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration found officials at the flight center broke the law in the spring of 2009 when they dismissed an Illinois pilot because he contacted the Federal Aviation Administration to discuss violations of the pilot certification process, according to news release.

The violations revolve around whistleblower protection provisions in the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century, the news release states. OSHA has ordered the company to immediately reinstate the employee and pay more than $500,000 in back wages, benefits and damages.

The employee alleged he was asked to falsify a pilot certification form for a training flight he performed with another pilot if February 2009, according to the labor department. He also stated that in March of 2009, supervisors attempted to sway him into signing a backdated and incorrect form.

The pilot proceeded to inform his supervisors that he was going to contact the FAA Flight Standards District, the news release states. He contacted the FAA in late March and was terminated in April, with no reason given.

The investigation by OSHA’s Chicago office concluded that he would not have been terminated had he not requested to meet with the FAA about the pilot certification process and forms.

The labor department does not release the names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints.

An appeal to the decision can be filed within 30 days.

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