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July 19, 2004.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: SHIRA SCHEINDLIN, District Judge



  Silvin Blackstock brings this action against Champlain Enterprises, Inc. d/b/a CommutAir ("CommutAir"), alleging that CommutAir discharged him on the basis of his race, in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2000e-17, and the New York Human Rights Law, N.Y. Exec. Law §§ 290-301. CommutAir now moves for summary judgment. For the following reasons, CommutAir's motion is granted.


  CommutAir is a privately owned commercial passenger airline that flies throughout the northeastern United States.*fn1 Vanda Crook is CommutAir's Director of Operations and Vice President, as well as a qualified pilot.*fn2 Henry Wurster is CommutAir's Chief Pilot; he supervises CommutAir's pilots and reports directly to Crook.*fn3

  Silvin Blackstock, an African-American, was a pilot for CommutAir from March 2000 until September 12, 2002.*fn4 Like all new pilots at CommutAir, Blackstock started out as a First Officer.*fn5 CommutAir First Officers can become Captains by completing CommutAir's program to upgrade to Captain, which consists of an oral examination, flight simulator training, and Initial Operating Experience ("IOE") in which the First Officer flies an aircraft as a Captain with a Check Airman observing and flying as First Officer.*fn6 As places become available in the Captain upgrade program, they are offered to First Officers solely on the basis of seniority.*fn7

  In June 2001, Blackstock enrolled in the Captain upgrade program, but he failed the oral examination and resumed flying as a First Officer in July 2001.*fn8 Blackstock attributes his failure to the fact that at the time he was partially responsible for the care of his sister, who had been injured and hospitalized.*fn9

  During the time that Blackstock was a First Officer, Chief Pilot Wurster received numerous complaints concerning Blackstock's performance.*fn10 As a result, Wurster decided to fly as a Captain with Blackstock as his First Officer in January 2002 in order to evaluate Blackstock's flying skills.*fn11 After two or three days of flying with Blackstock, Wurster concluded that Blackstock was proficient to fly as a First Officer, but that Blackstock's "flying skills were not at a par with individuals of his experience."*fn12 During these flights, Wurster pointed out to Blackstock areas in which his skills needed improvement.*fn13

  In May 2002, Blackstock again enrolled in the Captain upgrade program on the basis of his seniority.*fn14 During the IOE phase of the program, Blackstock first flew two days with Check Airman Dave Douglas, who reported several deficiencies in Blackstock's performance.*fn15 Blackstock then flew three days of IOE with Check Airman Ted Robinson, who concluded from his observations that Blackstock's deficiencies were of such a serious nature that further IOE was not warranted, and that Blackstock should not be promoted to Captain.*fn16

  Despite Robinson's evaluation, and despite the fact that Blackstock had already received the standard number of IOE hours, Crook and Wurster arranged for Blackstock to have additional IOE.*fn17 Blackstock then flew with Check Airman Dale Holderman, who determined that Blackstock was still unprepared to become a Captain, but nevertheless recommended that he receive further additional IOE.*fn18 Blackstock then underwent further IOE with Holderman, after which Holderman deemed him ready for an FAA observation and line check, the last step to becoming a Captain.*fn19 Blackstock passed his FAA observation and line check, and became a Captain on July 2, 2002.*fn20

  Shortly after Blackstock began flying as a Captain, Chief Pilot Wurster received three unsolicited complaints from other CommutAir Captains regarding Blackstock's performance.*fn21 As a result, Wurster arranged to fly as Blackstock's First Officer on August 6 and 7, 2002. Blackstock, however, called in sick on August 6, 2002, and Wurster never rescheduled the flights.*fn22

  On September 5, 2002, Crook was a passenger on one of Blackstock's flights, during which she saw him commit several violations of operating procedure.*fn23 After this flight, Crook asked Wurster to conduct an investigation of Blackstock's ability to fly as a Captain.*fn24 This was the only investigation Wurster conducted into a pilot's competence at CommutAir, and both Wurster and Crook stated that there were no CommutAir rules or procedures governing such an investigation.*fn25

  Between September 6 and 12, 2002, Wurster communicated with five First Officers who had flown with Blackstock as Captain, as well as with CommutAir's Director of Maintenance and a CommutAir Dispatcher.*fn26 At no time during the investigation did Wurtser speak to Blackstock about the concerns that had been raised regarding his competence.*fn27 Based in part on these communications, Wurster concluded that Blackstock was a nervous pilot, that his knowledge of systems and operations was weak, and that he was prone to potentially dangerous errors.*fn28 For these reasons Wurster "no longer had confidence that Silvin Blackstock could fly safely and effectively a CommutAir aircraft as a Captain,"*fn29 and he therefore recommended that Blackstock be terminated.*fn30 On September 12, 2002, Wurster and Crook met with Blackstock and offered him the option of being terminated or resigning; Blackstock chose to be terminated.*fn31

  Blackstock claims to have identified at least twelve documented instances in which Caucasian CommutAir Captains violated procedures or engaged in unsafe conduct but were not terminated.*fn32 Each of ...

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