9/24/08                                                                                                                                            8900.1 CHG 33

Volume 11  FLIGHT STANDARDS PROGRAMS

Chapter 3  WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION PROGRAM (AIR CARRIER)

Section 3  Complaint Processing

11-143  FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION (FAA) PROCESSING.

A.     Who The WBPP Covers. The FAA processes Whistleblower Protection Program (WBPP) complaints from employees of air carriers, their contractors, or subcontractors. Normally, complaints are received from the electronic complaint form on the FAA WBPP Web site, the FAA regional and field offices, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offices, or DOT/OIG offices. Complaints may be submitted by the complainant or by any person on behalf of the complainant with the complainant’s knowledge and authority.

B.     Complainant Requirements. The FAA national WBPP screens complaints for the following statutorily required elements:

1)      Complainant must be a covered employee;
2)      Complainant must have been engaged in a protected activity as described in Title 49 of the United States Code (U.S.C) § 42121(a) (i.e., prior to the discrimination event, must have reported any violation or alleged violation of any FAA order, standard or regulation or any other provision of Federal law or any other law of the United States relating to air carrier safety to their employer or to the Federal Government); and
3)      Complainant must reasonably believe that they have been discriminated against for engaging in the protected activity and be able to show that the employer had knowledge of the protected activity prior to the alleged discrimination.

NOTE: Employees who want to “blow the whistle” about a safety concern but have not suffered an adverse work action as a result of their safety complaint should not file a WBPP complaint. Such complaints will be investigated as safety‑only complaints. Nevertheless, investigators should advise complainants that the WBPP may be available to them if they perceive retaliation as a result of their air carrier related safety allegation.

C.     OSHA Coordination. If all required elements are present, AQS‑100 assigns an FAA WBPP tracking number to the complaint, forwards it to the Director of AQS-1 for assignment to the Director, Flight Standards Service (AFS‑1), ATTN: AFS-10 for investigation, prepares assignment and notification letters, and coordinates with the OSHA.

D.    Applicable Assignments. AFS-1, through AFS-10, assigns the investigation to the applicable regional division manager.

E.     Investigation Assignments. The regional division manager, through their Regional Whistleblower Coordinator, assigns the investigation to the appropriate office for investigation.

NOTE:  All complaints must be investigated by a region other than the certificate holding region.

F.      Safety Allegations. The assigned office investigates each safety allegation in the same manner they would investigate any other safety violation while taking special note of WBPP confidentiality requirements and the importance of contacting the complainant as expeditiously as possible.

G.    RWBC Memorandum. The investigating inspector prepares a memorandum from the office manager to the regional division manager to the attention of the RWBC. The report must address each safety allegation and include investigative actions, findings, and results. Include attachments if necessary. If violations are found, the investigating inspector prepares the Enforcement Investigative Report (s) (EIR) and forwards it with the report. The EIR will be sent by the investigating region RWBC to the certificate holding region for processing and legal action. The comments section of the report indicates if enforcement action is taken and specifies the recommended sanction.  If administrative action is taken, attach a copy of the letter. If legal action is taken, cite the EIR number and reference the regulations believed to be violated. If no action is taken, include a statement explaining why.

H.    Investigative Office Report. The RWBC reviews the report for completeness. If the report is unsatisfactory, the RWBC will non-concur and return it to the investigating office for further investigation or modification. When the RWBC concurs, he or she presents the report to the regional division manager. When the regional division manager concurs with the adequacy and findings of the report, the RWBC summarizes the findings in a memo from the regional division manager to AFS-1, ATTN: AFS-10. The memo states what the investigation found, which violations were substantiated, proposed sanctions, and the concurrence of the regional division manager. Attach the investigative office report to the memo.

I.       Time Extensions. Requests for time extensions should be made to AFS-10, who will forward the request to AQS-100.

11-144  DEPARTMENT OF LABOR (DOL) PROCESSING. The OSHA conducts an investigation of discrimination allegations while the FAA is investigating the alleged safety violation.

·        The OSHA must determine whether the case has merit within 60 days of receipt of the complaint. The OSHA dismisses the complaint if a prima facie case of discrimination has not been made.

·        If a prima facie case has been made, the OSHA may issue a preliminary order of abatement, reinstatement, and compensatory damages.

·        The OSHA may also offer a settlement between the parties at any time during the process.

·        Once the DOL Order of Relief becomes final, the FAA may assess an additional civil penalty against the company for violating the whistleblower law.

RESERVED. Paragraphs 11‑145 through 11‑160.