LOS ANGELES, Aug. 27, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — A former Delta Airlines pilot filed suit on Monday against the airline for wrongful termination and retaliation. Michael Protack, 61, had served as a pilot for Delta for over 20 years in good standing before a work-related dispute caused Delta to remove him from flying duties and increasingly retaliate against him over a period of several years.
The lawsuit alleges multiple instances of retaliation, as well as harassment, wrongful termination, age discrimination, and a variety of other misconduct. The suit shows how Delta’s motivations resulted, illegally, from Protack reporting safety concerns about airplanes, including one instance when he refused to fly a scheduled flight for fear of a mechanical issue; reporting misogynistic comments made by other pilots and copilots; and engaging in union activities, such as complaining about unfair pay cuts and pension changes.
Once Delta had poisoned their working relationship with Protack, they then falsely claimed that Protack was medically unfit to fly and required a psychiatric evaluation in order to be restored to flight status. Not only did this directly constitute a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (and other laws), but it was also completely baseless: During this time period Protack had been cleared to fly by numerous board-certified doctors with the FAA, whose authority exceeds Delta’s in determining pilot fitness. Protack actually continued to seek and receive these physical exams and clearances on a regular basis throughout his suspension.
Carney Shegerian, of Shegerian & Associates, one of Protack’s attorneys, described this situation as different from typical on-the-job disputes.
“Workplace disputes are certainly not uncommon, but what happened here is a systematic violation of numerous laws by Delta Airlines in its efforts to marginalize and minimize Mr. Protack,” Shegerian said. “His career as a commercial pilot is effectively over, and he has endured years of pain and suffering, including lost wages and opportunities for advancement, at the hands of his former employers—all because Mr. Protack was committed to a safe, fair working environment.”
Shegerian added that, shortly before Protack’s firing, Delta attempted to coerce Protack to withdraw his grievances, making it clear that Protack had to choose between losing his job, or backing down on the stand he had taken against his years of mistreatment.
“There is no way to win in those situations,” Shegerian said, “and management knows it. They know they’ve got all the power. This happens to workers all the time, who are either forced to endure poor work circumstances or are fired for objecting.”
He concluded, “I always use occasions like this to tell the general public that if your employer is mistreating you, speak to an employment law attorney. Learn your rights. Unscrupulous employers count on their workers not knowing what’s legal and what isn’t. When you learn what the law says about your situation, it completely changes the power imbalance.”
Protack’s case is now pending in the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, Southern Division.
Shegerian & Associates has won clients over $200 million in employment-based disputes and maintains a 98% success rate. We have offices in Los Angeles and New York.
For media: interviews with Carney Shegerian can be arranged at media@ShegerianLaw.com.
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