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Gilbert v. North American Airlines

United States District Court, E.D. New York

March 26, 2014

JOHN Q. GILBERT, Plaintiff,
v.
NORTH AMERICAN AIRLINES, MARTIN WAX, LORRAINE DIMARCO, and ERIC CHANG, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

KIYO A. MATSUMOTO, District Judge.

On February 3, 2012, John Gilbert ("plaintiff") commenced this action against North American Airlines ("NAA"); Martin Wax, NAA's Vice President of Technical Operations; Lorraine Dimarco, NAA's Director of Maintenance; and Eric Chang, NAA's Director of Human Resources (collectively, "defendants"), pursuant to the Age Discrimination and Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621. Plaintiff alleges that the defendants engaged in a pattern of purposeful harassment and discrimination, resulting in a hostile environment and the discriminatory termination of plaintiff's employment due to his age. ( See generally ECF No. 1, Complaint filed 2/3/12 ("Compl.").) Defendants now move to dismiss plaintiff's claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). ( See generally ECF No. 13, Defendants' Memorandum of Law in Support of their Motion to Dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) filed 7/19/13 ("Defs.' Mem.").) For the reasons set forth below, defendants' motion to dismiss is granted, and plaintiff's claim is dismissed in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are taken from the plaintiff's Complaint, which the court must assume to be true for the purpose of resolving defendants' Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). ( See generally Compl.) Additionally, where indicated, the complaint's factual allegations are supplemented by facts and information drawn from documents external to the Complaint, upon which plaintiff explicitly relies upon within the Complaint or are in the purview of judicial notice.[1] These external documents have been provided to the court as attachments to the defendants' motion to dismiss. ( See generally ECF No. 13, Defs.' Mem.; see also ECF No. 16, Certification of Ivan R. Novich in support of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) filed 7/22/13 ("Novich. Cert."); ECF No. 14, Defendants' Reply Memorandum filed 7/19/13 ("Defs.' Reply").)

I. Parties

Plaintiff is a former Manager of Maintenance Control at NAA. (Compl. ¶ 10.) Plaintiff previously worked for Pan American Airlines for 24 years as a technician, controller, and relief duty manager in the technical operations center. ( Id. ¶ 40.) Thereafter, in August 2005, after thirteen years, plaintiff retired from his position at Northwest Airlines and subsequently began working at NAA. ( Id. ¶¶ 8, 38.) Throughout his career, plaintiff developed managerial expertise, overseeing aircraft maintenance operations at Newark Airport and Philadelphia Airport. ( Id. ¶ 11.)

Defendant NAA is a corporation duly incorporated in the State of New York and does regular business at John F. Kennedy Airport. ( Id. ¶ 4.) At all relevant times, Martin Wax, Lorraine DiMarco, and Eric Chang were managerial employees of NAA and acted under the direction, policies, practices, and customs of NAA. ( Id. ¶¶ 5-7.)

II. Complaint Allegations

Plaintiff became Manager of Maintenance Control at NAA sometime after August 2005, after he left his position at Northwest Airlines. ( Id. ¶¶ 8-10.) The Director of Maintenance at NAA, Michael Jacoby, recruited him for the position. ( Id. ¶ 10.)

While at NAA, plaintiff was responsible for providing technical oversight for aircrafts at both foreign and domestic stations. ( Id. ¶ 12-13.) His role also involved overseeing both maintenance controllers and flight technicians. ( Id. ¶¶ 12-13.) During his time as Manager of Maintenance Control, plaintiff alleges NAA showed a concerted effort to undermine his efforts to manage the Maintenance Controls Operation. ( Id. ¶ 36.) This included giving some of plaintiff's job responsibilities to other managers at NAA. ( Id. ¶ 26.) Plaintiff alleges that under his leadership, he helped improve his department at NAA. ( Id. ¶ 15.) Specifically, plaintiff assisted the maintenance control operations department in passing two internal audits conducted by the Department of Defense. ( Id. ¶ 15.) Plaintiff alleges that despite his successes and experience, the defendants rejected his ideas about how to improve the airline. ( Id. ¶ 17.)

Plaintiff ultimately began to complain to the defendants about their discussions regarding his suggestions for improving operations, and alleges this is when defendants' retaliation and harassment began. ( Id. ¶ 20.) Sometime in 2007, plaintiff contends defendant Martin Wax yelled at plaintiff for not giving an employee a low job performance rating. ( Id. ¶¶ 21-22.) Sometime thereafter, plaintiff applied for the position of Senior Manager of Maintenance Control, only to receive a disciplinary Performance Improvement Plan letter instead. ( Id. ¶ 25.) He alleges this letter was written to provide a reason for plaintiff's job application rejection. ( Id. ¶ 25.) Plaintiff then received a memo from upper management notifying him that management was relocating him to the engineering department on August 1, 2011, and that plaintiff had to assume the position of "manager engineering troubleshooters, " a position the defendants never posted. ( Id. ¶ 35.) Plaintiff alleges he was unjustifiably removed "without due process" from his position of Manager of Maintenance Control, a position that was being eliminated, and was told his newly acquired position would "be a better fit for his talents, " although it would be easier for the defendants to terminate him without cause or difficulty from the new position of "manager engineering troubleshooters." ( Id. ¶¶ 34-35.) Additionally, plaintiff contends that he was undermined, harassed, and retaliated against and that hiring a less experienced candidate for Manager of Maintenance Control would be less expensive for the defendants because he "is now at retirement age." ( Id. ¶ 36.)

On February 3, 2012, plaintiff filed the instant action, alleging that defendants violated the ADEA, 29 U.S.C. § 621. ( See generally Compl.) Specifically, plaintiff alleges that defendants "creat[ed] a course of harassment and a hostile work environment based on his age." ( Id. ¶ 43.)[2]

III. NAA's Bankruptcy & Bankruptcy Restructuring Agreement

On February 5, 2012, Global Aviation Holdings, Inc. ("Debtors"), NAA's parent company, filed a voluntary Chapter 11 petition in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of New York ("the Bankruptcy Court"), identifying NAA as a debtor. (ECF No. 16, Novich Cert. filed 7/22/13, Ex. 2.) On February 14, 2012, defendants served plaintiff, through his attorney Andrew Schatkin, Esq., with notice of NAA's bankruptcy. ( Id., Ex. 3.) On June 15, 2012, the Bankruptcy Court ordered a July 30, 2012 cutoff date (the "Bar Date") for potential claimants to assert their claims against the debtors that arose prior to the debtors' filing of their Chapter 11 ...


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