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Labor Dept. rules Delta discriminated against pilot after questioning her mental health

The Labor Department ruled Delta Air Lines discriminated against a pilot after they questioned her psychiatric health amid her raising safety concerns.

Pilot Karlene Petitt filed the lawsuit against Delta in 2016. Petitt raised issues to Delta about pilot fatigue, training and its safety management system. Delta later referred her for a psychiatric examination by a company doctor who then diagnosed her with bipolar disorder. Petitt spent nearly two years on paid leave before it was determined she did not suffer from bipolar disorder.

Administrative law judge Scott Morris wrote in his Dec. 21 decision that Petitt was “unlawfully discriminated against in the form of a career defining Section 15 mental health evaluation.”

Petitt asked for $30 million in punitive damages, but the judge said he does not have the power to grant that. The judge ordered Delta to pay $500,000 for lost wages and Petitt’s damaged career.

“Delta denies First Officer Petitt’s claims that anyone at Delta retaliated against her because she raised safety concerns,” a Delta spokesperson told USA Today. “We disagree with the administrative law judge’s ruling and intend to appeal.”

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