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updated: 11/7/2012 6:29 PM

LITH company violated whistle-blower laws, OSHA says

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A Lake in the Hills aircraft management company was found by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration to have illegally terminated an employee in 2009, and was ordered by to reinstate him and pay him back more than $500,000.

An OSHA investigation found that Northern Illinois Flight Center, also known as N-Jet, violated the whistle-blower protection provisions of the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century, known as AIR21, when it dismissed the whistle-blower, a pilot from Illinois, after he contacting the Federal Aviation Administration to discuss violations of the pilot certification process, according to a news release from OSHA's Chicago office.

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Howard Seedorf, president and CEO of Northern Illinois Flight Center, also known as N-Jet, said the company plans to appeal the "completely erroneous" finding. "It's a classic disgruntled employee situation. We'll see where it goes," he said, declining to say more.

The pilot alleged that he was asked to falsify an FAA pilot certification form after the required elements were not completed during a training flight in February 2009, OSHA said. The pilot said his supervisors attempted to coerce him into signing a backdated and incorrect form in March 2009. Later, the pilot informed his supervisors that he wanted to contact the FAA to get clarification on the issue, and did so in late March 2009. The pilot was terminated April 7, 2009.

Northern Illinois Flight Center was founded in 1979 and moved to Lake in the Hills in the late 1980s, Seedorf said. The company has about 70 employees and provides comprehensive aircraft services including maintenance, storage, fuel service, flight crews and more.

OSHA Chicago office spokeswoman Rhonda Burke said she didn't know if the FAA investigated the pilot's claims. "He made an appointment to go meet with the FAA, and he was dismissed prior to the date of that meeting," she said. "He was dismissed without cause given."

The FAA Great Lakes Region office did not return requests for comment Wednesday.

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