• FRAUD: Delta “weaponized” a bogus psychological assessment to silence w

    From Larry Dighera@21:1/5 to All on Mon Dec 28 05:19:01 2020

    Tribunal Rules Delta ‘Retaliated’ Against Pilot For Safety Report

    Russ Niles December 27, 20202

    A Labor Department tribunal has awarded a Delta pilot $500,000 in a whistleblower case after determining the airline “weaponized” a bogus psychological assessment that grounded her for two years. Speaking for
    the panel, Administrative Law Judge Scott Morris further determined
    that the trip to the psychiatrist was retaliation for Karlene Pettit’s
    drafting a 43-page report detailing alleged safety issues at the
    airline, and its safety culture. Petitt has a doctorate in aviation
    safety. The psychiatrist retained by Delta determined that Petitt was
    bipolar and therefore disqualified from flying. Two subsequent
    examinations repudiated those findings and were critical of the
    original psychiatrist, who subsequently lost his license to practice
    for his involvement in another case that resulted in another pilot disqualification. Delta had already reported the diagnosis to the FAA
    medical section before the two later examinations were conducted.

    In his decision, Morris determined that Petitt had proven that the use
    of Delta’s so-called “Section 15” was the culmination of a plot among high-level Delta executives to retaliate against the 40-year veteran
    pilot for bringing up the alleged safety issues. “To be clear, the
    Tribunal fervently believes, when properly used, the Section 15
    process is a valuable and needed tool to protect Respondent (Delta),
    its pilots, the pilots union, but most importantly, the public,”
    Morris wrote. “However, it is improper for Respondent to weaponize
    this process for the purposes of obtaining blind compliance by its
    pilots due to fear that Respondent can ruin their career by such
    cavalier use of this tool of last resort.” In an unusual move, Morris
    also ordered the airline to publish the judgment where its pilots
    could see it to educate them on the value and importance of
    whistleblower protection in assuring that important issues of public
    interest can be raised.

    Among those deposed for the hearing was FAA Administrator Steve
    Dickson, who was Delta’s VP of Flight Operations at the time. An FAA
    spokesman told AVweb Dickson met once with Petitt when she presented
    her report to him and chief pilot Jim Graham. ”The matter was handled
    by a cross-divisional team, as were hundreds of other disciplinary proceedings,” the spokesman said. He referred AVweb to Dickson’s
    testimony at his Senate confirmation hearing where the Petitt case was
    raised. In that testimony, Dickson also said that he believed the
    decision to invoke Section 15 was justified by “a credible report
    about statements the pilot made to company officials and behavior she exhibited, which raised legitimate questions about her fitness to

    Petitt had asked for $30 million in compensatory damages but the
    tribunal rejected the claim because it viewed the claim as a bid to
    claim punitive damages, which the tribunal cannot award. The $500,000
    award was higher than most cases of this nature but Morris said the
    emotional and reputation harm endured by Petitt was unusually damaging
    to her. She was also awarded back pay and other compensation for the
    time she was grounded. Petitt did not respond to AVweb’s request for

    Delta also did not respond to AVweb but told The Wall Street Journal
    it plans to appeal the decision and denies it retaliated against
    Petitt with the psychiatric assessment. It said it encourages
    voluntary reporting of safety issues by employees and has “zero
    tolerance for retaliation in any form.”

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