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OSHA finds City of Cleveland and its officials illegally retaliated against Airport whistleblower, Abdul Malik-Ali

OSHA findings

CLEVELAND, OHIO - Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued its final investigatory findings in Cleveland Hopkins International Airport whistleblower, Abdul Malik-Ali's, complaint of retaliation. On February 19, 2015, Mr. Ali reported safety violations to the FAA and the then-Port Control Director, Ricky Smith, immediately reassigned Mr. Ali to a menial job. Mr. Ali filed his complaint with OSHA on March 6, 2015.

After a two-year investigation, OSHA found "that there is reasonable cause to believe that Respondent [the City of Cleveland] violated the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century, 49 U.S.C. §42121." Furthermore, in its devastating report , OSHA found "evidence to support a casual nexus" between Mr. Ali's complaint to the FAA and the Airport's retaliation, as well as animus and disparate treatment in Mr. Ali's reassignment to count trash cans. In February 2017, OSHA had previously found the City's actions to be retaliatory. As a result of the Airport's actions, OSHA has ordered the City to:

  • Reinstate Mr. Ali to his former position;
  • Pay Mr. Ali $10,000 for pain and suffering from his loss of position and public humiliation to count trash and recycling cans;
  • Pay Mr. Ali compensatory damages of $10,600 for economic loss from forcing him to relinquish his Dodge Durango city vehicle;
  • Pay Mr. Ali's attorneys' fees of $75,198;
  • Expunge Mr. Ali's personnel record of any adverse references to Mr. Ali's complaint and reassignment; and
  • Post a copy of OSHA's notice to airport employees , and send it by email to all airport employees. The notice announces OSHA's finding that Cleveland retaliated, and pledges that Cleveland will not do so, or intimidate others, again.

On May 23, 2017, Mr. Ali sought to amend his pending federal civil lawsuit. Ali's suit is captioned Ali v. City of Cleveland et al., Case No. 1:17-cv-00634, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio in Cleveland, before Judge Solomon Oliver.

Subodh Chandra, Donald Screen, and Marvin C. Brown IV of The Chandra Law Firm LLC, www.ChandraLaw.com, represent Mr. Ali.

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