On August 16, 2016, Riggan Law Firm, LLC, an employment law firm located in St. Louis, Missouri, filed an employment discrimination lawsuit on behalf of its client, an airline pilot, against GoJet Airlines. The lawsuit—filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri—alleges that the Plaintiff airline pilot was fired in violation of the Uniformed Service Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (“USERRA”). USERRA is a federal law that establishes rights and responsibilities members and their civilian employers, including the right for service members to take time off work to fulfill service obligations.
The following are some allegations from the lawsuit:
- At the beginning of his employment, Plaintiff informed Defendant that he was a member of the Illinois National Guard, and also informed the Defendant of his training and service obligations as a member of the Guard.
- Despite being on notice of Plaintiff’s military obligations, Defendant caused Plaintiff to miss multiple prescheduled training sessions with the Air National Guard due to Defendant’s job training requirements and work trips that were extended without notice.
- Defendant also made unreasonable requests regarding Plaintiff’s Air National Guard service schedule and supporting documentation.
- Defendant’s actions toward Plaintiff culminated when Plaintiff’s employment was terminated.
- At the time of the termination, Plaintiff was at his National Guard base for mandatory training, and he received a call from a GoJet manager stating that GoJet did not believe Plaintiff was in the military and questioned why Plaintiff was taking leave from work.
- In response, Plaintiff stated that he was in fact in the Air National Guard, that he was currently on his base for mandatory training, and that his leave was protected by USERRA. Plaintiff also offered to show the GoJet manager his military identification card once he returned to work.
- The manager replied by stating to Plaintiff, “Don’t lecture me on USERRA; I’ll bounce you out of here faster than shit.”
- Plaintiff tried to explain his position further, but the GoJet manager interrupted him and stated, “My office, Thursday at noon” and then hung up the phone on Plaintiff.
- Given that Plaintiff was on “orders” and on his base for Guard training, he knew he would be unable to attend the meeting that was set by the GoJet manager.
- When Plaintiff was unable to attend the meeting, he was fired by e-mail shortly after the time for the meeting, and while Plaintiff was still on Guard duty at his base.
The suit seeks recovery of lost pay and benefits, liquidated damage, injunctive relief, attorneys’ fees, and litigation costs/expenses.
According to its website, GoJet serves over 4 million passengers annually, with more than 220 daily flights providing service to over 60 destinations, and provides service for both United Airlines and Delta Airlines.