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Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

e-CFR Data is current as of October 29, 2014

Title 29Subtitle BChapter XVII → Part 1979


Title 29: Labor


PART 1979—PROCEDURES FOR THE HANDLING OF DISCRIMINATION COMPLAINTS UNDER SECTION 519 OF THE WENDELL H. FORD AVIATION INVESTMENT AND REFORM ACT FOR THE 21ST CENTURY


Contents

Subpart A—Complaints, Investigations, Findings and Preliminary Orders

§1979.100   Purpose and scope.
§1979.101   Definitions.
§1979.102   Obligations and prohibited acts.
§1979.103   Filing of discrimination complaint.
§1979.104   Investigation.
§1979.105   Issuance of findings and preliminary orders.

Subpart B—Litigation

§1979.106   Objections to the findings and the preliminary order and request for a hearing.
§1979.107   Hearings.
§1979.108   Role of Federal agencies.
§1979.109   Decision and orders of the administrative law judge.
§1979.110   Decision and orders of the Administrative Review Board.

Subpart C—Miscellaneous Provisions

§1979.111   Withdrawal of complaints, objections, and findings; settlement.
§1979.112   Judicial review.
§1979.113   Judicial enforcement.
§1979.114   Special circumstances; waiver of rules.

Authority: 49 U.S.C. 42121; Secretary of Labor's Order 5-2002, 67 FR 65008 (October 22, 2002).

Source: 68 FR 14107, Mar. 21, 2003, unless otherwise noted.

Subpart A—Complaints, Investigations, Findings and Preliminary Orders

§1979.100   Purpose and scope.

(a) This part implements procedures under section 519 of the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century, 49 U.S.C. 42121 (“AIR21”), which provides for employee protection from discrimination by air carriers or contractors or subcontractors of air carriers because the employee has engaged in protected activity pertaining to a violation or alleged violation of any order, regulation, or standard of the Federal Aviation Administration or any other provision of Federal law relating to air carrier safety.

(b) This part establishes procedures pursuant to AIR21 for the expeditious handling of discrimination complaints made by employees, or by persons acting on their behalf. These rules, together with those rules codified at 29 CFR part 18, set forth the procedures for submission of complaints under AIR21, investigations, issuance of findings and preliminary orders, objections to findings and orders, litigation before administrative law judges, post-hearing administrative review, and withdrawals and settlements.

§1979.101   Definitions.

Act or AIR21 means section 519 of the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century, Public Law 106-181, April 5, 2000, 49 U.S.C. 42121.

Air carrier means a citizen of the United States undertaking by any means, directly or indirectly, to provide air transportation.

Assistant Secretary means the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health or the person or persons to whom he or she delegates authority under the Act.

Complainant means the employee who filed a complaint under the Act or on whose behalf a complaint was filed.

Contractor means a company that performs safety-sensitive functions by contract for an air carrier.

Employee means an individual presently or formerly working for an air carrier or contractor or subcontractor of an air carrier, an individual applying to work for an air carrier or contractor or subcontractor of an air carrier, or an individual whose employment could be affected by an air carrier or contractor or subcontractor of an air carrier.

Named person means the person alleged to have violated the Act.

OSHA means the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the United States Department of Labor.

Person means one or more individuals, partnerships, associations, corporations, business trusts, legal representatives, or any group of persons.

Secretary means the Secretary of Labor or persons to whom authority under the Act has been delegated.

§1979.102   Obligations and prohibited acts.

(a) No air carrier or contractor or subcontractor of an air carrier may discharge any employee or otherwise discriminate against any employee with respect to the employee's compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because the employee, or any person acting pursuant to the employee's request, engaged in any of the activities specified in paragraphs (b)(1) through (4) of this section.

(b) It is a violation of the Act for any air carrier or contractor or subcontractor of an air carrier to intimidate, threaten, restrain, coerce, blacklist, discharge or in any other manner discriminate against any employee because the employee has:

(1) Provided, caused to be provided, or is about to provide (with any knowledge of the employer) or cause to be provided to the air carrier or contractor or subcontractor of an air carrier or the Federal Government, information relating to any violation or alleged violation of any order, regulation, or standard of the Federal Aviation Administration or any other provision of Federal law relating to air carrier safety under subtitle VII of title 49 of the United States Code or under any other law of the United States;

(2) Filed, caused to be filed, or is about to file (with any knowledge of the employer) or cause to be filed a proceeding relating to any violation or alleged violation of any order, regulation, or standard of the Federal Aviation Administration or any other provision of Federal law relating to air carrier safety under subtitle VII of title 49 of the United States Code, or under any other law of the United States;

(3) Testified or is about to testify in such a proceeding; or

(4) Assisted or participated or is about to assist or participate in such a proceeding.

(c) This part shall have no application to any employee of an air carrier, contractor, or subcontractor who, acting without direction from an air carrier, contractor, or subcontractor (or such person's agent) deliberately causes a violation of any requirement relating to air carrier safety under Subtitle VII Aviation Programs of Title 49 of the United States Code or any other law of the United States.

§1979.103   Filing of discrimination complaint.

(a) Who may file. An employee who believes that he or she has been discriminated against by an air carrier or contractor or subcontractor of an air carrier in violation of the Act may file, or have filed by any person on the employee's behalf, a complaint alleging such discrimination.

(b) Nature of filing. No particular form of complaint is required, except that a complaint must be in writing and should include a full statement of the acts and omissions, with pertinent dates, which are believed to constitute the violations.

(c) Place of filing. The complaint should be filed with the OSHA Area Director responsible for enforcement activities in the geographical area where the employee resides or was employed, but may be filed with any OSHA officer or employee. Addresses and telephone numbers for these officials are set forth in local directories and at the following Internet address: http://www.osha.gov.

(d) Time for filing. Within 90 days after an alleged violation of the Act occurs (i.e., when the discriminatory decision has been both made and communicated to the complainant), an employee who believes that he or she has been discriminated against in violation of the Act may file, or have filed by any person on the employee's behalf, a complaint alleging such discrimination. The date of the postmark, facsimile transmittal, or e-mail communication will be considered to be the date of filing; if the complaint is filed in person, by hand-delivery, or other means, the complaint is filed upon receipt.

(e) Relationship to section 11(c) complaints. A complaint filed under AIR21 that alleges facts which would constitute a violation of section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, 29 U.S.C. 660(c), shall be deemed to be a complaint filed under both AIR21 and section 11(c). Similarly, a complaint filed under section 11(c) that alleges facts that would constitute a violation of AIR21 shall be deemed to be a complaint filed under both AIR21 and section 11(c). Normal procedures and timeliness requirements for investigations under the respective laws and regulations will be followed.

§1979.104   Investigation.

(a) Upon receipt of a complaint in the investigating office, the Assistant Secretary will notify the named person of the filing of the complaint, of the allegations contained in the complaint, and of the substance of the evidence supporting the complaint (redacted to protect the identity of any confidential informants). The Assistant Secretary will also notify the named person of his or her rights under paragraphs (b) and (c) of this section and paragraph (e) of §1979.110. A copy of the notice to the named person will also be provided to the Federal Aviation Administration.

(b) A complaint of alleged violation will be dismissed unless the complainant has made a prima facie showing that protected behavior or conduct was a contributing factor in the unfavorable personnel action alleged in the complaint.

(1) The complaint, supplemented as appropriate by interviews of the complainant, must allege the existence of facts and evidence to make a prima facie showing as follows:

(i) The employee engaged in a protected activity or conduct;

(ii) The named person knew or suspected, actually or constructively, that the employee engaged in the protected activity;

(iii) The employee suffered an unfavorable personnel action; and

(iv) The circumstances were sufficient to raise the inference that the protected activity was a contributing factor in the unfavorable action.

(2) For purposes of determining whether to investigate, the complainant will be considered to have met the required burden if the complaint on its face, supplemented as appropriate through interviews of the complainant, alleges the existence of facts and either direct or circumstantial evidence to meet the required showing, i.e., to give rise to an inference that the named person knew or suspected that the employee engaged in protected activity and that the protected activity was a contributing factor in the unfavorable personnel action. Normally the burden is satisfied, for example, if the complaint shows that the adverse personnel action took place shortly after the protected activity, giving rise to the inference that it was a factor in the adverse action. If the required showing has not been made, the complainant will be so advised and the investigation will not commence.

(c) Notwithstanding a finding that a complainant has made a prima facie showing, as required by this section, an investigation of the complaint will not be conducted if the named person, pursuant to the procedures provided in this paragraph, demonstrates by clear and convincing evidence that it would have taken the same unfavorable personnel action in the absence of the complainant's protected behavior or conduct. Within 20 days of receipt of the notice of the filing of the complaint, the named person may submit to the Assistant Secretary a written statement and any affidavits or documents substantiating his or her position. Within the same 20 days the named person may request a meeting with the Assistant Secretary to present his or her position.

(d) If the named person fails to demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that it would have taken the same unfavorable personnel action in the absence of the behavior protected by the Act, the Assistant Secretary will conduct an investigation. Investigations will be conducted in a manner that protects the confidentiality of any person who provides information on a confidential basis, other than the complainant, in accordance with 29 CFR part 70.

(e) Prior to the issuance of findings and a preliminary order as provided for in §1979.105, if the Assistant Secretary has reasonable cause, on the basis of information gathered under the procedures of this part, to believe that the named person has violated the Act and that preliminary reinstatement is warranted, the Assistant Secretary will again contact the named person to give notice of the substance of the relevant evidence supporting the complainant's allegations as developed during the course of the investigation. This evidence includes any witness statements, which will be redacted to protect the identity of confidential informants where statements were given in confidence; if the statements cannot be redacted without revealing the identity of confidential informants, summaries of their contents will be provided. The named person shall be given the opportunity to submit a written response, to meet with the investigators to present statements from witnesses in support of his or her position, and to present legal and factual arguments. The named person shall present this evidence within ten business days of the Assistant Secretary's notification pursuant to this paragraph, or as soon afterwards as the Assistant Secretary and the named person can agree, if the interests of justice so require.

§1979.105   Issuance of findings and preliminary orders.

(a) After considering all the relevant information collected during the investigation, the Assistant Secretary will issue, within 60 days of filing of the complaint, written findings as to whether or not there is reasonable cause to believe that the named person has discriminated against the complainant in violation of the Act.

(1) If the Assistant Secretary concludes that there is reasonable cause to believe that a violation has occurred, he or she will accompany the findings with a preliminary order providing relief to the complainant. The preliminary order will include, where appropriate, a requirement that the named person abate the violation; reinstatement of the complainant to his or her former position, together with the compensation (including back pay), terms, conditions and privileges of the complainant's employment; and payment of compensatory damages. Where the named person establishes that the complainant is a security risk (whether or not the information is obtained after the complainant's discharge), a preliminary order of reinstatement would not be appropriate. At the complainant's request the order shall also assess against the named person the complainant's costs and expenses (including attorney's and expert witness fees) reasonably incurred in connection with the filing of the complaint.

(2) If the Assistant Secretary concludes that a violation has not occurred, the Assistant Secretary will notify the parties of that finding.

(b) The findings and the preliminary order will be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, to all parties of record. The letter accompanying the findings and order will inform the parties of their right to file objections and to request a hearing, and of the right of the named person to request attorney's fees from the administrative law judge, regardless of whether the named person has filed objections, if the named person alleges that the complaint was frivolous or brought in bad faith. The letter also will give the address of the Chief Administrative Law Judge. At the same time, the Assistant Secretary will file with the Chief Administrative Law Judge, U.S. Department of Labor, a copy of the original complaint and a copy of the findings and order.

(c) The findings and the preliminary order shall be effective 30 days after receipt by the named person pursuant to paragraph (b) of this section, unless an objection and a request for a hearing has been filed as provided at §1979.106. However, the portion of any preliminary order requiring reinstatement shall be effective immediately upon receipt of the findings and preliminary order.

Subpart B—Litigation

§1979.106   Objections to the findings and the preliminary order and request for a hearing.

(a) Any party who desires review, including judicial review, of the findings and preliminary order, or a named person alleging that the complaint was frivolous or brought in bad faith who seeks an award of attorney's fees, must file any objections and/or a request for a hearing on the record within 30 days of receipt of the findings and preliminary order pursuant to paragraph (b) of §1979.105. The objection or request for attorney's fees and request for a hearing must be in writing and state whether the objection is to the findings, the preliminary order, and/or whether there should be an award of attorney's fees. The date of the postmark, facsimile transmittal, or e-mail communication will be considered to be the date of filing; if the objection is filed in person, by hand-delivery or other means, the objection is filed upon receipt. Objections must be filed with the Chief Administrative Law Judge, U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, DC 20001, and copies of the objections must be mailed at the same time to the other parties of record, the OSHA official who issued the findings and order, and the Associate Solicitor, Division of Fair Labor Standards, U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, DC 20210.

(b)(1) If a timely objection is filed, all provisions of the preliminary order shall be stayed, except for the portion requiring preliminary reinstatement. The portion of the preliminary order requiring reinstatement shall be effective immediately upon the named person's receipt of the findings and preliminary order, regardless of any objections to the order.

(2) If no timely objection is filed with respect to either the findings or the preliminary order, the findings or preliminary order, as the case may be, shall become the final decision of the Secretary, not subject to judicial review.

§1979.107   Hearings.

(a) Except as provided in this part, proceedings will be conducted in accordance with the rules of practice and procedure for administrative hearings before the Office of Administrative Law Judges, codified at subpart A, of 29 CFR part 18.

(b) Upon receipt of an objection and request for hearing, the Chief Administrative Law Judge will promptly assign the case to a judge who will notify the parties, by certified mail, of the day, time, and place of hearing. The hearing is to commence expeditiously, except upon a showing of good cause or unless otherwise agreed to by the parties. Hearings will be conducted as hearings de novo, on the record. Administrative law judges shall have broad discretion to limit discovery in order to expedite the hearing.

(c) If both the complainant and the named person object to the findings and/or order, the objections will be consolidated and a single hearing will be conducted.

(d) Formal rules of evidence shall not apply, but rules or principles designed to assure production of the most probative evidence shall be applied. The administrative law judge may exclude evidence which is immaterial, irrelevant, or unduly repetitious.

§1979.108   Role of Federal agencies.

(a)(1) The complainant and the named person shall be parties in every proceeding. At the Assistant Secretary's discretion, the Assistant Secretary may participate as a party or may participate as amicus curiae at any time in the proceedings. This right to participate shall include, but is not limited to, the right to petition for review of a decision of an administrative law judge, including a decision based on a settlement agreement between complainant and the named person, to dismiss a complaint or to issue an order encompassing the terms of the settlement.

(2) Copies of pleadings in all cases, whether or not the Assistant Secretary is participating in the proceeding, must be sent to the Assistant Secretary, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and to the Associate Solicitor, Division of Fair Labor Standards, U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, DC 20210.

(b) The FAA may participate as amicus curiae at any time in the proceedings, at the FAA's discretion. At the request of the FAA, copies of all pleadings in a case must be sent to the FAA, whether or not the FAA is participating in the proceeding.

§1979.109   Decision and orders of the administrative law judge.

(a) The decision of the administrative law judge will contain appropriate findings, conclusions, and an order pertaining to the remedies provided in paragraph (b) of this section, as appropriate. A determination that a violation has occurred may only be made if the complainant has demonstrated that protected behavior or conduct was a contributing factor in the unfavorable personnel action alleged in the complaint. Relief may not be ordered if the named person demonstrates by clear and convincing evidence that it would have taken the same unfavorable personnel action in the absence of any protected behavior. Neither the Assistant Secretary's determination to dismiss a complaint without completing an investigation pursuant to §1979.104(b) nor the Assistant Secretary's determination to proceed with an investigation is subject to review by the administrative law judge, and a complaint may not be remanded for the completion of an investigation or for additional findings on the basis that a determination to dismiss was made in error. Rather, if there otherwise is jurisdiction, the administrative law judge shall hear the case on the merits.

(b) If the administrative law judge concludes that the party charged has violated the law, the order shall direct the party charged to take appropriate affirmative action to abate the violation, including, where appropriate, reinstatement of the complainant to that person's former position, together with the compensation (including back pay), terms, conditions, and privileges of that employment, and compensatory damages. At the request of the complainant, the administrative law judge shall assess against the named person all costs and expenses (including attorney's and expert witness fees) reasonably incurred. If, upon the request of the named person, the administrative law judge determines that a complaint was frivolous or was brought in bad faith, the judge may award to the named person a reasonable attorney's fee, not exceeding $1,000.

(c) The decision will be served upon all parties to the proceeding. Any administrative law judge's decision requiring reinstatement or lifting an order of reinstatement by the Assistant Secretary shall be effective immediately upon receipt of the decision by the named person, and may not be stayed. All other portions of the judge's order shall be effective ten business days after the date of the decision unless a timely petition for review has been filed with the Administrative Review Board.

§1979.110   Decision and orders of the Administrative Review Board.

(a) Any party desiring to seek review, including judicial review, of a decision of the administrative law judge, or a named person alleging that the complaint was frivolous or brought in bad faith who seeks an award of attorney's fees, must file a written petition for review with the Administrative Review Board (“the Board”), which has been delegated the authority to act for the Secretary and issue final decisions under this part. The decision of the administrative law judge shall become the final order of the Secretary unless, pursuant to this section, a petition for review is timely filed with the Board. The petition for review must specifically identify the findings, conclusions or orders to which exception is taken. Any exception not specifically urged ordinarily shall be deemed to have been waived by the parties. To be effective, a petition must be filed within ten business days of the date of the decision of the administrative law judge. The date of the postmark, facsimile transmittal, or e-mail communication will be considered to be the date of filing; if the petition is filed in person, by hand-delivery or other means, the petition is considered filed upon receipt. The petition must be served on all parties and on the Chief Administrative Law Judge at the time it is filed with the Board. Copies of the petition for review and all briefs must be served on the Assistant Secretary, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and on the Associate Solicitor, Division of Fair Labor Standards, U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, DC 20210.

(b) If a timely petition for review is filed pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section, the decision of the administrative law judge shall become the final order of the Secretary unless the Board, within 30 days of the filing of the petition, issues an order notifying the parties that the case has been accepted for review. If a case is accepted for review, the decision of the administrative law judge shall be inoperative unless and until the Board issues an order adopting the decision, except that a preliminary order of reinstatement shall be effective while review is conducted by the Board. The Board will specify the terms under which any briefs are to be filed. The Board will review the factual determinations of the administrative law judge under the substantial evidence standard.

(c) The final decision of the Board shall be issued within 120 days of the conclusion of the hearing, which shall be deemed to be the conclusion of all proceedings before the administrative law judge—i.e., ten business days after the date of the decision of the administrative law judge unless a motion for reconsideration has been filed with the administrative law judge in the interim. The decision will be served upon all parties and the Chief Administrative Law Judge by mail to the last known address. The final decision will also be served on the Assistant Secretary, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and on the Associate Solicitor, Division of Fair Labor Standards, U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, DC 20210, even if the Assistant Secretary is not a party.

(d) If the Board concludes that the party charged has violated the law, the final order shall order the party charged to take appropriate affirmative action to abate the violation, including, where appropriate, reinstatement of the complainant to that person's former position, together with the compensation (including back pay), terms, conditions, and privileges of that employment, and compensatory damages. At the request of the complainant, the Board shall assess against the named person all costs and expenses (including attorney's and expert witness fees) reasonably incurred.

(e) If the Board determines that the named person has not violated the law, an order shall be issued denying the complaint. If, upon the request of the named person, the Board determines that a complaint was frivolous or was brought in bad faith, the Board may award to the named person a reasonable attorney's fee, not exceeding $1,000.

Subpart C—Miscellaneous Provisions

§1979.111   Withdrawal of complaints, objections, and findings; settlement.

(a) At any time prior to the filing of objections to the findings or preliminary order, a complainant may withdraw his or her complaint under the Act by filing a written withdrawal with the Assistant Secretary. The Assistant Secretary will then determine whether the withdrawal will be approved. The Assistant Secretary will notify the named person of the approval of any withdrawal. If the complaint is withdrawn because of settlement, the settlement shall be approved in accordance with paragraph (d) of this section.

(b) The Assistant Secretary may withdraw his or her findings or a preliminary order at any time before the expiration of the 30-day objection period described in §1979.106, provided that no objection has yet been filed, and substitute new findings or preliminary order. The date of the receipt of the substituted findings or order will begin a new 30-day objection period.

(c) At any time before the findings or order become final, a party may withdraw his or her objections to the findings or order by filing a written withdrawal with the administrative law judge or, if the case is on review, with the Board. The judge or the Board, as the case may be, will determine whether the withdrawal will be approved. If the objections are withdrawn because of settlement, the settlement shall be approved in accordance with paragraph (d) of this section.

(d)(1) Investigative settlements. At any time after the filing of a complaint, and before the findings and/or order are objected to or become a final order by operation of law, the case may be settled if the Assistant Secretary, the complainant and the named person agree to a settlement.

(2) Adjudicatory settlements. At any time after the filing of objections to the Assistant Secretary's findings and/or order, the case may be settled if the participating parties agree to a settlement and the settlement is approved by the administrative law judge if the case is before the judge, or by the Board if a timely petition for review has been filed with the Board. A copy of the settlement shall be filed with the administrative law judge or the Board, as the case may be.

(e) Any settlement approved by the Assistant Secretary, the administrative law judge, or the Board, shall constitute the final order of the Secretary and may be enforced pursuant to §1979.113.

§1979.112   Judicial review.

(a) Within 60 days after the issuance of a final order by the Board under §1979.110, any person adversely affected or aggrieved by the order may file a petition for review of the order in the United States Court of Appeals for the circuit in which the violation allegedly occurred or the circuit in which the complainant resided on the date of the violation. A final order of the Board is not subject to judicial review in any criminal or other civil proceeding.

(b) If a timely petition for review is filed, the record of a case, including the record of proceedings before the administrative law judge, will be transmitted by the Board to the appropriate court pursuant to the rules of the court.

§1979.113   Judicial enforcement.

Whenever any person has failed to comply with a preliminary order of reinstatement or a final order or the terms of a settlement agreement, the Secretary or a person on whose behalf the order was issued may file a civil action seeking enforcement of the order in the United States district court for the district in which the violation was found to have occurred.

§1979.114   Special circumstances; waiver of rules.

In special circumstances not contemplated by the provisions of this part, or for good cause shown, the administrative law judge or the Board on review may, upon application, after three days notice to all parties and interveners, waive any rule or issue any orders that justice or the administration of the Act requires.



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