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Cathay Pacific Terminates Pilot on Military Disability

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Cathay Pacific Terminates Pilot on Military Disability

Old 29th May 2012, 22:07
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Cathay Pacific Terminates Pilot on Military Disability

A good friend just contacted me to tell me that he recieved a termination letter from Cathay Pacific. He's been a first officer flying the 747 for many years. He's also a US Navy Pilot. A few months back he was flying a broken F/A-18 and had to eject to save his life. He's been on the disabled list and recovering since. He was hoping to return to Cathay once medically fit. They caught him completely off guard with this. No warning and no reason was given for letting him go besides the standard corporate policy line.

Can Cathay terminate someone on US military disability? What recourse can an American Pilot take if he feels he's been wrongfully terminated by a company based in HK? Does he have legal rights? Any advice?
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Old 29th May 2012, 23:01
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Sorry i can't help with advice but i hope your friend does have the law on his side and he takes them to the cleaners.
It's just a sad indication as to how little we mean to the accountants that run the show these days. I did hear a story a while ago that a certain large UK loco sent a letter terminating the employment of one of their pilots who was off with cancer. I was told he died the day the letter arrived. All in the name of profit no doubt!
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Old 29th May 2012, 23:21
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He may or may not depending on what type contract he is on. Wouldn't be the first guy to have a sheriff put a lean on an a/c in lax or JFK
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Old 29th May 2012, 23:23
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I would guess that U.S. law protecting a civilian job while on military leave has no force on a foreign carrier.
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Old 29th May 2012, 23:26
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It may if he is based in the US.
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Old 29th May 2012, 23:29
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There are some serious medical issues involved here. Ejecting might save your life but it causes severe spinal compression. A life of back pain is to be expected and the pilot would not be expected to ever be fit for fast jet duties.

Regaining fitness as a commercial pilot is possible but by no means certain and would take years rather than months. In the circumstances it is reasonable to assume that the pilot is medically unfit and unlikely to be employable for the foreseeable future.

There are, of course, questions which need to be asked about insurances and any employment contract provisions for medical retirement.
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Old 29th May 2012, 23:30
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It also depends on whether he had written to the company asking permission to carry out this type of flying, if not then he has no recourse.
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Old 29th May 2012, 23:43
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what are the facts , ejecting can cause spinal compression , but equally if all goes ok there is no problem and people resume fast jet flying.
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Old 29th May 2012, 23:47
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I wish him the best but good luck suing Cathay.



Ask the 49er's how it worked out for them.
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Old 29th May 2012, 23:53
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Does he have loss of licence insurance?
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Old 30th May 2012, 00:40
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Much as I hate to defend Cathay, the fact is the US Navy broke him so I would suggest that it is up to the US Government to take care of him, not the airline.

Holding a pilot on the sick list costs Cathay money so why should Cathay pay when one of their pilots are injured on Military service for a foreign nation.

Would British Airways be expected to automatically retain a pilot who was a Taiwanese citizen with a UK right of abode and was disabled ejecting from a Taiwan Air Force jet ?
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Old 30th May 2012, 01:11
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If he is on the disabled list, then the US Navy will provide benefits. Perhaps if this chap were injured during, say an actual mission into a war zone, rather than joy riding off the California or Florida coast, then perhaps CX may take a different view on subject.

What are the provisions within the contract between the Hornet chap and Cathay for non company flying? I would be my last rupee that CX truly does not care.

But then again, if there were a Sheriff's Lien put on one of CX's toys in JFK, then well... the outcome probably won't be too good.

In any event, hopefully the chap in question gets his FAA medical back and is able to get back into the air or find another position.
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Old 30th May 2012, 01:45
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Key to success is finding a good attorney. The chap must be 'pre-eminent' in this kind of litigation. He'll be terribly expensive, but the initial meeting will probably be free, a discussion of the case and its merits. I'm not sure how to follow my advice but attorneys have access to their peers' qualifications and will share if he happens to be friends with one. Otherwise google for similar cases, which often name the attorneys, and then check them out.

Fun as the lien sounds, it's unlikely that Cathay will neglect to pay up if they lose.
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Old 30th May 2012, 01:58
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Why would Cathay pay anything ?, he was injured working for Uncle Sam so Uncle Sam should pay the bills. From Cathay's POV he took time off and failed to return to work.
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Old 30th May 2012, 02:44
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If he is a US base pilot the rules for Reservist and National Guards men would apply, doesn't matter if he worked for Cathay Delta or General Motors for that matter. Employers are required to return employees to previous position after military orders. And the US military vigorously defends these rules. Based overseas and all bets are off.
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Old 30th May 2012, 07:45
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And why in the hell was he flying an F-18 in the first place? If you want to be a military pilot - stay in the military. If you want to be an airline pilot, then show up for work and you won't get fired!
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Old 30th May 2012, 09:22
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Because he had the opportunity to do so you numpty!

Jealousy is a curse - and no I don't fly for the military.
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Old 30th May 2012, 10:07
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Not an AOA member I guess
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Old 30th May 2012, 11:46
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Something like 30% of US airline pilots are in the reserves or national guard, and I've heard around 2/3 of the US military are reservists and guardsmen. All these people are entitled to military leave anytime they are "called up" or scheduled, and the employers have to deal with it.

As far as I understand it, the US, employers and almost everyone strongly support the military. When someone goes away, whether a day or for months or even a year or more, they are guaranteed to get their job back when they return, along with lots of other guarantees. This is a major cost of doing business for most companies, and it is particularly hard on small ones.

I have no doubt that CX will soon be receiving a letter from the US Navy and will quickly find out just how easy it is for the US government to enforce their laws that protect their personnel. I assume CX got their legal advice from the same kind of experts who thought onshoring was a great idea...

Last edited by Iron Skillet; 30th May 2012 at 11:46.
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Old 30th May 2012, 13:41
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When CX employ ex-US military chaps they are supposed to provide evidence they no longer have any military commitment.

Secondly the COS clearly states he must have written permission from CX to undertake any other form of flying.

Non-US airlines do not have the same requirement to honour National Guard or Reserve obligations - it only applies to US companies.
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