Engineers Pursue Employment Discrimination
By Mike Mitchell
August 11, 2011 - A federal court in Brooklyn, New York,
ruled that Caucasian flight engineers, based at John F.
Kennedy International Airport (“JFK”), can pursue their
employment discrimination claims in New York, against a
Japanese air cargo carrier.
Bakeer v. Nippon Cargo Airlines, 09-CV-3374 (RRM), four
former flight engineers sued for discrimination, based
on national origin, race, and age, when they were fired,
while their younger, Japanese counterparts were offered
new opportunities when Nippon Cargo Airlines (“NCA”)
changed its equipment.
Defendants, NCA, and plaintiffs’ alleged joint employers, PARC U.S., Parc Aviation Limited (Ireland), and Hawaii Aviation Contract Services (“HACS”), moved to dismiss the complaints on forum non conveniens grounds and for failure to state a claim.
94-page Report and Recommendation (the “Report”), Magistrate
Judge Cheryl Pollak recommended that the District Court deny the
defendants’ motion to dismiss on forum non conveniens grounds,
and further recommended that the District Court deny defendants’
motion to dismiss the substance of the flight engineers’
several reasons why the court reasoned that the discrimination
case should stay in New York, is that three of the plaintiffs
had New York choice of law provisions in their written
employment agreements with defendants.
none of the flight engineers reside in New York, each was based
at NCA’s hub at JFK. While NCA argued that the flight engineers
spent more time flying than working on the ground, the Court
reasoned: “Surely, defendants cannot be suggesting that
plaintiffs’ primary place of employment, where they ‘spent most
of their working hours’ is in the air, and that therefore, there
is no physical location that can serve as a proper forum for the
litigation of plaintiffs’ employment discrimination claims.”
Plaintiffs include: Hakeem Bakeer, who is a U.S. citizen, who resides in Springfield, Virginia; David Michaud, who died after the lawsuit began, was a U.S. citizen, who resided in Sacramento, California; Mark Weaver, who is a U.S. citizen, who resides in Ypsilanti, Michigan; and Douglas Frith, who is an Australian citizen and resident.
Each of the flight
engineers had flown 747-Cargo planes for at least seven years before
each was fired. Each plaintiff has sued under federal, state and city
anti-discrimination laws, including: Title VII The Age Discrimination in
Employment Act (“ADEA”) Section 1981 New York State Human Rights Law New
York City Human Rights Law.
In addition, they
have asserted various claims asserting the Family Medical Leave Act and
retaliation, which the court has recommended be re-pleaded to add
additional detail. Defendants have 14 days to appeal the Magistrate
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