Pilot Relieved of Duty for Refusing to Endanger Lives in Severe Weather
ExpressJet Airlines labels pilot “unstable,” violating rights protected by law, according to filing
HOUSTON, Aug. 31, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — An ExpressJet Airlines pilot has filed a lawsuit against parent company Continental Express claiming retaliation and ruin of his professional reputation. The suit claims he was targeted because he took precautionary action during severe weather conditions, costing the company money. In the filing the pilot alleges the airline used his pursuit of treatment for depression during his divorce years before, as reasoning for declaring him unfit to fly.
ExpressJet Airlines grounded Captain Michael Hirsch, citing a “psychological” condition after Hirsch refused to jeopardize passenger and crew safety on an ExpressJet flight from Houston to Milwaukee. Hirsch claimed extreme snow and ice conditions caused several weather delays.
“The company began a pattern of discrimination and retaliation against Captain Hirsch, although he was performing all the essential functions of his job without restriction,” said Lemond. “The fact that the company can attack an employee who responsibly sought help through an employee assistance program, which it provides, jeopardizes the rights of employees everywhere and in every industry. No amount of bottom-line profit is worth endangering innocent passengers or trampling rights covered under law.”
According to Texas employee law, employers cannot discriminate based on disability in hiring, firing, training, or matters regarding compensation or the terms conditions or privileges or employment.
Hirsch is aware of other employees with similar stories and wants to return to piloting with a clean record, said Lemond. “Captain Hirsch wants ExpressJet to admit that it falsely accused Captain Hirsch of being mentally unstable to fly and to remove all documentation that prevents him from making a living in a job which he is honorably committed.”