Pilot sues Flight Academy of New Orleans claiming exploitative work practices

By Galia Binder | Feb 26, 2014

NEW ORLEANS – A certified commercial pilot and flight instructor alleges the Flight Academy of New Orleans made him an attractive offer for the position of assistant chief flight instructor in a joint program with Herzing University, however, when he arrived, he claims he was grossly underpaid and when he complained about allegedly illegal practices, he was terminated on the spot.

Gilles Craig Salomon field suit against Flight Academy of New Orleans (FANO) in Orleans Parish Civil District Court.

In December 2012, Salomon claims he was offered the chance to train and prepare students for their commercial licensing in a dual program with FANO and Herzing. Salomon interviewed with Ankur Hukmani and Stephanie Burns, Dean of Herzing, and arrived in New Orleans on Jan. 11, 2013, to begin work.  According to the plaintiff, Hukmani spoke of offering Salomon a full time position and a salary approaching $100,000. However, upon his hire, Hukmani paid Salomon hourly minimum wages and Burns offered Salomon an annual salary of $20,000.

Salomon asserts he began to identify an insidious practice by FANO. He claims the academy misrepresented the cost of flight training to Herzing and constantly rotated instructors in order to slow student progress. By these processes, FANO was able to invoice the students and university for more training and money. Salomon claims after a few months he refused to perform an illegal operation.

FANO responded by taking away his students and notifying the Federal Aviation Administration. In May 2013 FANO hired a new instructor and demoted Salomon to a back-up instructor, but left him with an empty schedule. Salomon filed a complaint to the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, and alleges Hukmani responded by firing him on the spot.

Salomon accuses FANO of breach of contract and wrongful termination. In support of his accusation, Salomon says he has records and written testimonies from Herzing students, management, Dean Burns, Herzing’s CEO and former FANO employees all of whom were fired or quit.

Salomon is asking for $30,000 for lost wages, $10,000 for damages to his reputation and $10,000 for emotional distress and financial hardship.

Salomon is representing himself in the case pro se.

The case has been assigned to Division M Judge Paulette R. Irons.

Case no. 2013-12041.

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