11 FLIGHT STANDARDS PROGRAMS
Chapter 3 WHISTLEBLOWER
PROTECTION PROGRAM (AIR CARRIER)
Section 3 Complaint
11-143 FEDERAL AVIATION
ADMINISTRATION (FAA) PROCESSING.
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
Complainant Requirements. The FAA national WBPP screens
complaints for the following statutorily required elements:
Complainant must be a covered employee;
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
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
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.
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.
Applicable Assignments. AFS-1, through AFS-10, assigns
the investigation to the applicable regional division manager.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
RESERVED. Paragraphs 11‑145