An Allegiant Air pilot fired is suing the airline for wrongful termination and defamation.
Allegiant fired the pilot in July after he evacuated passengers on the Tarmac at St. Pete-Clearwater Airport on June 8. The plane returned to the ground after reports of smoke in the cabin, according to the lawsuit. Fearing there was imminent threat of a fire, the pilot had passengers and crew evacuate via Allegiant flight 864’s emergency slides.
According to the pilot’s termination letter, Allegiant fired him after it ruled the evacuation was “entirely unwarranted.” The letter accuses the pilot of compromising the safety of his crew and passengers, which directly resulted in several injuries. However, air traffic control recordings confirm that even ground crews reported seeing smoke coming from one of the plane’s engines.
The lawsuit alleges Allegiant fired the pilot because he refused to put company profits before passenger safety.
The pilot is seeking in excess of $30,000 in damages. He also claims the airline defamed him by sharing his termination letter and personnel file with third parties, resulting in him being blackballed from the airline industry.
Allegiant has not commented on the pending litigation.
The airline did release a statement, saying, “any and every decision about our flight crews is made first and foremost with the safety of Allegiant’s passengers in mind. While we are not able to comment on specific employment matters or lawsuits at this time, we never compromise on our commitment to safety. We take any employee termination with great seriousness and ensure that a thorough investigation, collecting facts from all stakeholders, is conducted before any decision is made.”
Wrongful termination is firing an employee for an illegal reason, including:
- Discrimination based on race, age, sex, pregnancy, disability, national origin or other protected status.
- Retaliation for engaging in a protected activity such as reporting discrimination, reporting a work injury or following proper protocols.