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Viequez Airline Must Rehire Pilot Exposing Safety Lapses

March 10, 2006 – A District Court judge has ruled a Vieques, Puerto Rico, airline must rehire a pilot fired after exposing safety lapses, an official said.
Vieques Air Link, which offers daily flights to St. Croix, broke federal whistleblower laws when it suspended, then fired, the pilot after he raised safety concerns in March 2002, said Ted Fitzgerald, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Labor, on Thursday.
The Feb. 2 ruling by the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston upheld an earlier ruling by the Labor Department, which also awarded the unnamed pilot $72,315 in back wages, compensation for damages and legal fees, Fitzgerald said.
"It is vital that employees be able to raise safety concerns to their employers and appropriate public safety agencies without fear of retaliation," said Patricia K. Clark, a New York administrator for the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Officials from Vieques Air Link, a 40-year-old airline owned by pilot Osvaldo Gonzále, were unavailable for comment Friday.
More information about employers and employees rights and responsibilities under the whistleblower provision are available at whistleblower.

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