An Allegiant Air pilot who was fired in 2014 accuses the airline of age discrimination, alleging in a lawsuit filed Monday that he was terminated to make way for younger pilots.
Charles E. Roberts filed suit in Hillsborough Circuit Court, seeking unspecified punitive and compensatory damages for wrongful termination by the airline with headquarters in Las Vegas.
The suit said the airline is engaged in a continuing pattern of age discrimination.
Roberts, whose age and city of residence are not listed in the lawsuit, had worked as an Allegiant pilot for seven years. He could not be reached to comment. His attorney, Jennifer Birmingham of Winter Park, did not return a call Tuesday seeking comment.
Officials at Allegiant, which flies 95 percent of the passengers out of St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, also did not respond to a request for comment. The airport flew a record 1.6 million passengers in 2015.
The lawsuit said Roberts was subject to "unwarranted discipline" by the airline and ridicule by management, especially regarding his "upgrade training." That led to him being denied promotions and pay raises and "unsupported questioning of his professional integrity and, ultimately his termination."
Roberts' suit said he was told by an Allegiant training scheduler that the airline was "riding him out the door" because it was "trying to get rid of the old ones."
A supervisor told a simulator instructor to fail Roberts, according to the suit.
"Such treatment was made for the purpose of replacing pilots over 40 years of age … with significantly younger, less-experienced pilots," the suit said. "Although (Roberts) was informed he was doing well with … training, (Allegiant's) actions toward (him) were targeted to achieve his discharge."
The suit said the airline also gave him negative work evaluations and that other older employees were "targeted."
Allegiant is one of the fastest-growing airlines in the United States and now connects the Pinellas County airport with about 50 cities. The airline, however, also has experienced a series of highly publicized maintenance events and emergency landings leading some to question Allegiant's safety. The airline says it is one of the safest in the industry.
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