Pilot loses claim of retaliatory denial of promotion
Mark Hoffman is a pilot for NetJets Aviation, Inc. He has flown jets in the NetJet fleet since 1997. Over that time, he had several run-ins with administrators over mechanical and safety issues. In each case he prevailed or his safety concerns were vindicated. Nevertheless, when he applied for a promotion to Initial Operating Experience Instructor, his appointment was denied. He believed the denial was based on safety reporting history and filed an action against NetJets for retaliating against him in breach of 49 U.S.C. 42121 (referred to as "AIR 21").The employer pulled together a "blue-ribbon" panel of company men to interview the applicants for IOE instructor. When they were finished rating applicants, Hoffman was rated below 26 of the 30 applicants, primarily because he lacked international flight experience and because he "did not interview well."
Since applicants of equal ability are supposed to be promoted by seniority, Hoffman filed a grievance which ultimately led to a lawsuit. The Sixth Circuit rejected his claim, however, concluding that NetJets had adequately proved that it would not have promoted Hoffman to the IOE position, regardless of his safety complaints.