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 Whistleblower Protection Program (WBPP) Covers. The FAA processes
WBPP complaints from employees of air carriers, their contractors, or subcontractors.
Normally, complaints are received from the electronic complaint form on the
FAA WBPP website, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offices,
or Department of Transportation (DOT)/Office of the Inspector General (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).
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, the Audit and
Evaluation Staff (AAE‑100) assigns an FAA WBPP tracking number to the complaint,
forwards it to the Executive Director of Flight Standards, ATTN: Quality Control
and Investigations Branch A, for investigation, prepares assignment and notification
letters, and coordinates with OSHA.
D. Applicable Assignments. The Executive Director of Flight Standards, through
Quality Control and Investigations Branch A, assigns the investigation to Quality
Control and Investigations Branch B.
E. Investigation Assignments. Quality Control and Investigations Branch B assigns the investigation to the appropriate personnel for investigation.
F. Safety Allegations. The assigned personnel investigate 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. Report of Investigation Memorandum. The investigating inspector prepares
a memo from the manager of Quality Control and Investigations Branch B to the
manager of Quality Control and Investigations Branch A, summarizing the results.
1) Specify details including dates, names of persons interviewed,
and whether the investigation findings substantiated the alleged violations.
Include a statement that indicates what legal or administrative enforcement
action is planned.
2) If an Enforcement Investigative Report (EIR) is processed,
summarize the violations and recommended sanctions.
3) If administrative action is taken or contemplated, attach
a copy of the administrative action letter.
4) For legal enforcement action, Compliance Action (CA), or corrective
action, cite the reference number.
5) If no action is taken, explain why.
NOTE: The certificate-holding district office (CHDO) will take the appropriate
action, (e.g., EIR per FAA Order
FAA Compliance and Enforcement Program;
CA in accordance with the Compliance Philosophy (CP); or Safety Assurance (SA)
corrective action) based on the WBPP investigation findings. The enforcement
actions and CAs are Office of General Aviation Safety Assurance (AFG) and Office
of Air Carrier Safety Assurance (AFC) functions because of the required follow-up
surveillance/Safety Assurance System (SAS) oversight and Safety Management System (SMS) activities.
H. Report of Investigation (ROI). The Quality Control and Investigations
Branch B manager reviews the results for completeness of the investigation and
sufficiency of the action taken.
1) When the Quality Control and Investigations Branch B manager
concurs, they will sign the ROI cover memo accompanying the report and forward
the concurrence to Quality Control and Investigations Branch A.
2) If the Quality Control and Investigations Branch B manager
does not concur, the manager returns the report to the investigating inspector
for further investigation, or clarification.
3) The ROI memo states what the investigation found, which violations were substantiated,
and the concurrence of the Quality Control and Investigations Branch B manager. Attach the ROI to the memo.
I. Time Extensions. Investigating inspectors requesting a time
extension should contact Quality Control and Investigations Branch A, after
conferring with management. Quality Control and Investigations Branch A will
coordinate the request through AAE-100.
11-144 DEPARTMENT OF LABOR (DOL) PROCESSING. OSHA conducts an investigation
of discrimination allegations while the FAA is investigating the alleged safety violation.
• OSHA must determine whether the case has merit within 60 calendar-days of receipt
of the complaint. OSHA dismisses the complaint if a prima facie case of discrimination has not been made.
• If a prima facie case has been made, OSHA may issue a preliminary
order of abatement, reinstatement, and compensatory damages.
• 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.