The airlines. What can be said about them these days? More and more news is coming out about making rows smaller and making us pay for more benefits that we used to take for granted.
These complaints are typically the plight of coach passengers, but not in this case. A flight attendant (now former flight attendant Gailen David) posted information on his blog about American Airlines executives and their wives allegedly bumping passengers from first class and holding planes, forcing people to miss their connections, according to Courthouse News Service. David was fired and then sued for posting the so-called "confidential" information on his website.
The lawsuit has been settled, forcing David to stop posting this information online, according to Courthouse News. Why weren't his actions protected as whistleblowing?
Whistleblower laws were created to protect employees who are brave enough to report the illegal actions of their employer. While these laws do protect many people, it does not protect everyone or for all cases of wrongdoing.
Specifically, whistleblowers are protected when they report their company's violation of a federal or state law. This can be an employment law, an environmental protection law, or an act of fraud that targets the government. For example, if a company is adding fraudulent charges to a government contract, an employee can receive whistleblower protection for reporting it.
If a whistleblower is wrongly fired, those protections include reinstatement to the employee's prior job at the same seniority level. The employee can also get twice the amount of back pay owed, plus interest, and any costs incurred from hiring an attorney or bringing a lawsuit.
However, whistleblower laws do not protect those who merely report inconveniences to customers or aggravations about an employer.
Unfortunately for Gailen David, he did not report American Airlines to the authorities, nor did his blog show that the airline had violated any laws. Without the whistle actually being blown on the violation of a law, David cannot call upon the protection of whistleblower laws to get his job back.
If you think that your business is breaking the law and think you should report it, you may first want to contact a Houston employment lawyer to make sure your actions won't get you grounded.
- What to Do If You've Been Fired for Whistleblowing (FindLaw)
- Whole Foods Whistleblower Defended by OSHA (FindLaw's Houston Employment Law Blog)
- Officer Claims City of Galveston Violated Whistleblower Laws (FindLaw's Houston Employment Law Blog)