American, Delta, USAirways and ComAir are suspending their participation in the Aviation Safety Reporting System. Their pilots are now subject to punishment for reporting violations.
Hmm… Wouldn’t State and Federal Whistleblowers’ Acts protect the pilots from this?
Don’t see how they could be applicable to this situation.
If someone is to get punished for reporting violations and pretty much threatens their job, you’re basically blowing the whistle on the company for those violations. That’s what the Whistleblower’s Act is supposed to protect employees against. They can’t have their livelihood come into jeopardy for reporting something that could be potentially dangerous not only to them, but their airline and passengers of their airline.
The ASRS program is there to give aircrews the ability to document “ah shit” moments that they may have caused with immunity and without fear of retribution.
The airlines voluntarily participate.
Whistleblower laws don’t generally apply to acts of an individual.
A related development.
US Airline Pilots Association Allows Safety Program to Lapse Citing Carrier’s Mismanagement of Critical Immunity Provisions
CHARLOTTE, N.C., Dec 15, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) – The US Airline Pilots Association (USAPA) today announced it has allowed the FAA’s Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP) to expire.
The ASAP was established to allow employees to voluntarily report safety problems and incidents without penalty, with certain exceptions including the involvement of alcohol, substance abuse or criminal activities. It was the FAA’s goal that this information-sharing program could help prevent airline accidents by encouraging employees to voluntarily report safety issues without fear of retribution and with immunity. Although immunity provisions are a safety industry standard adopted by such lauded programs as the NASA Safety Reporting System, USAPA believes US Airways’ insistence on diluting these provisions has rendered them effectively useless. The program was originally scheduled to lapse in early 2008 but had been extended repeatedly by USAPA in an attempt to reconcile disagreements regarding the diluted immunity provision.
Earlier this month, the Allied Pilots Association (representing the American Airlines Pilots) and the Air Line Pilots Association (representing Delta and Comair Pilots) also allowed their participation in the ASAP to expire on similar grounds, concerned that their respective airlines were using the program to discipline pilots for inadvertent and minor safety infringements. Those unions too requested that stronger measures be built in to the program to protect the integrity of this important safety program.
“We are extremely disappointed that our patient attempts with Management to protect the integrity of this valuable safety program have failed to produce cooperation. We are left with no choice but to allow the program to lapse. USAPA is committed to a proactive safety mindset. As a component of that effort, we cannot tolerate a dilution of the essential protective provisions that other effective safety reporting programs incorporate,” said Steve Bradford, President of USAPA. “We are troubled by the deteriorating state of labor/management relations that failed to produce any movement on these issues despite repeated extensions of the agreement meant to provide opportunity for teamwork.”
NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) is still in place. The ASRS similarly allows pilots and other aviation personnel to voluntarily report any safety issues they witness.
USAPA represents over 5,000 US Airways pilots in seven domiciles across the United States.
SOURCE: The US Airline Pilots Association
US Airline Pilots Association
James Ray, 980-875-7642
That would be of course protection from retribution from the FAA and not the employer, correct?
Whisleblower acts would give the aircrew the ability to document the "ah shit
moments that may be caused by the employers (bosses) actions / inactions with immunity and without fear of retribution if I understand this correctly?.
That’s exactly what I am getting at. While ASRS may protect the pilot from retribution from the FAA, there is nothing to protect them from their employer. If they blew the whistle on something their employer was in violation of, the Whistleblower’s Act should protect the pilots from any retribution their employer would dole out to them.
The ASRS Program is anonymous.
Very good point, however Whistleblower act provides this benefit to some degree for government workers or folks reporting government fraud…
Private industry such as the airlines is not as fortunate from all I am reading.
Which is why I said that I didn’t see how the whistleblower laws could apply in this situation. They’re generally limited to governmental malfeasance or corporate fraud.
“In the United States, legal protections vary according to the subject matter of the whistleblowing, and sometimes the state in which the case arises. In passing the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Senate Judiciary Committee found that whistleblower protections were dependent on the “patchwork and vagaries” of varying state statutes. (Congressional Record p. S7412; S. Rep. No. 107-146, 107th Cong., 2d Session 19 (2002).) Still, a wide variety of federal and state laws protect employees who call attention to violations, help with enforcement proceedings, or refuse to obey unlawful directions.”
“The first U.S. law adopted specifically to protect whistleblowers was the Lloyd-La Follette Act of 1912. It guaranteed the right of federal employees to furnish information to the United States Congress. The first U.S. environmental law to include an employee protection was the Water Pollution Control Act of 1972, also called the Clean Water Act. Similar protections were included in subsequent federal environmental laws including the Safe Drinking Water Act (1974), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (also called the Solid Waste Disposal Act) (1976), Toxic Substances Control Act (1976), Energy Reorganization Act of 1974 (through 1978 amendment to protect nuclear whistleblowers), Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA, or the Superfund Law) (1980), and the Clean Air Act (1990). Similar employee protections enforced through OSHA are included in the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (1982) to protect truck drivers, the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act (PSIA) of 2002, the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (“AIR 21”), and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, enacted on July 30, 2002 (for corporate fraud whistleblowers).”
NTSB PRESS RELEASE
National Transportation Safety Board
Washington, DC 20594
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 28, 2009
NTSB PLEASED WITH DELTA’S DECISION TO REINSTATE ASAP
Washington, DC - The National Transportation Safety Board is
pleased that Delta Air Lines has reinstated its Aviation
Safety Action Program (ASAP).
Under ASAP, pilots, mechanics, and dispatchers receive
immunity from disciplinary action when they voluntarily
report any safety-related incidents.
“ASAP is a major component to aviation safety,” said NTSB
Acting Chairman Mark V. Rosenker. “We are hopeful that
other carriers, who have recently suspended their ASAP will
also see the importance and value of these programs and
quickly reinstate them,” he added.
The Safety Board believes that proactive safety programs,
which encourage voluntary disclosure of safety issues, are
critical to ensuring aviation safety and identifying
problems before they lead to accidents.
The memorandum of understanding signed between the carrier,
the Air Line Pilots Association and the Federal Aviation
Administration will identify and correct safety issues, and
NTSB Media Contact: Terry N. Williams
do airlines have something to hide by making reporting these problems against company rules. and wouldnt that open them up to more lawsuits in the case of an accident?
California has this:
California False Claims Act
The California False Claims Act protects whistleblowers from retaliation from their employer under a section entitled: “Section 12653. Employer interference with employee disclosures.” Under this section, employers may not make rules that prevent an employee from disclosing information to the government in furtherance of a false claims action, an employer may not discharge, demote, suspend, threaten, harass, deny promotion to, or in any other manner discriminate against, an employee in the terms and conditions of employment because he or she has disclosed information to the government.
While New Jersey has:
New Jersey’s Whistleblower Act: Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA)
CEPA, New Jersey’s whistleblower law, prohibits an employer from taking any retaliatory action against an employee because the employee does any of the following:
- Discloses, or threatens to disclose, to a supervisor or to a public body an activity, policy, or practice of the employer or another employer, with whom there is a business relationship, that the employee reasonably believes is in violation of a law, or a rule or regulation issued under the law, or, in the case of an employee who is a licensed or certified health care professional, reasonably believes constitutes improper quality of patient care;
- Provides information to, or testifies before, any public body conducting an investigation, hearing or inquiry into any violation of law, or a rule or regulation issued under the law by the employer or another employer, with whom there is a business relationship, or, in the case of an employee who is a licensed or certified health care professional, provides information to, or testifies before, any public body conducting an investigation, hearing or inquiry into quality of patient care; or
- Objects to, or refuses to participate in, any activity, policy or practice which the employee reasonably believes: is in violation of a law, or a rule or regulation issued under the law, or, if the employee is a licensed or certified health care professional, constitutes improper quality of patient care; is fraudulent or criminal; or is incompatible with a clear mandate of public policy concerning the public health, safety or welfare or protection of the environment. N.J.S.A. 34:19-3
I would type out what is on the wall at my employer’s break room, but I’m not at work, and it’s counter productive.
With these, if a pilot at VRD were in a situation like AAL, USA, and COM were in, and had come out publicly about it, they should and would be protected under California’s False Claims Act. There is also a federal one in Congress AFAIK, but is on hold. The poster at work has more info on the federal one, so I’ll post that later. But this protects the pilot from any punishment or repercussions by the employer because they disclosed something.
You guys are missing the point that the principal entity these programs protect an employee from is the government, not the employer.
ok JHEM makes sense to me. thanks for the input.
Okay… so from what you’re saying, if I were a pilot flying for Virgin America. VRD has a serious issue that they are in violation of ASRS of. VRD suspends their participation in ASRS, leaving me liable for punishment should I report anything to the government. I could still be fired by VRD for reporting it, even though California’s and New Jersey’s laws expressly forbids an employer from discharging me because I reported it? Bear in mind, Virgin America is based in Burlingame, CA.
It isn’t just the government that that the employee is being protected from, but also the employer. It isn’t right that I report something my employer has done wrong to the government, and the employer fires me for it.