One can think of no more critical of a place than an airport where expressing safety concerns would be of the utmost importance. For workers to be retaliated against for acting in the public’s best interest is deeply troubling.
Here’s what we know about the case thusfar, according to The L.A. Times:
The Los Angeles Airport Police Officers Association has filed a claim for damages against the city. If the city denies that claim (which is likely), the association can move forward with a formal retaliation lawsuit.
Officials with the union represent those officers who patrol the airport said they have been hit with demeaning statements directed at them from police department supervisors and also forbidden from talking directly to lower-ranking officers during the regular roll-call meetings.
The president of the unions says that this is because there are whistleblowers within the union that have been raising red flags about “serious” safety problems at not only LAX but other airports run by the city as well (Van Nuys and Ontario International).
The city had forked over some $4 billion to modernize LAX, which is the third most highly-trafficked airport in the country. And yet, certain safety risks persist. The details of those risks were not outlined in the complaint.
The union says that seven out of 10 of its board members have been at the center of internal investigations or some other pending issue with police management. This, they say, is clear evidence that there is severe hostility being directed at the union from police superiors.
Additionally, some of the union officials have been abruptly reassigned to shifts or other duties seen as less desirable.
Both the city and the police department say they are reviewing the claim.
If true, these are extremely serious accusations.
The U.S. Labor Department, under the division of the Occupational Safety and Health Association, outlines the Whistleblower Protection Program, which states that workers in certain industries who report violations of safety or other specific concerns can not be discriminated against.
Discrimination is going to be defined as either firing or laying off, blacklisting, demoting, disciplining, intimidation, threatening, reassignment, reduction in pay or hours or denial of overtime, promotion or benefits.
This is an issue that is growing in terms of scope, as OSHA just announced last month that it intends to establish a Whisteblower Protection Advisory Committee, which is going to work with occupational safety and health leaders on how to improve whistleblower protections and transparency at job sites across the country.
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