American Airlines unlawfully retaliated against flight attendants who reported toxic fumes entering aircraft cabins, according to an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

According to a whistleblower investigation launched in August, the Texas-based airline responded to complaints from flight attendants by reducing assistance points and discouraging them from reporting work-related injuries and illnesses.

“Our investigation discovered that flight attendants were engaged in protected activities when they reported illnesses related to jet fuel vapors leaking into the aircraft cabin,” OSHA Area Director Timothy Minor of Fort Worth said in a statement. , Texas. “Workers should feel empowered to inform managers and others about potential hazards that endanger the safety and health of workers.”

In a statement, Julie Hedrick, national president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), which represents American Airlines’ 25,000 flight attendants, criticized the airline for using a strict new assistance program to punish flight attendants. workers.

«The fact that American Airlines is assigning points that can lead to termination for persistent effects of toxic smoke inhalation and other work-related injuries is unacceptable,» the association said. «We are encouraged that OSHA has agreed with APFA and the affected flight attendants.»

OSHA proposes a penalty of nearly $7,000.

In a statement, American said, «The safety of our team members and customers is always American’s top priority. We are reviewing the findings of OSHA’s investigation.»