CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A former employee of Boeing filed a lawsuit against the company and one of his supervisors alleging he was targeted for raising safety concerns and because of his involvement in a union.
In court documents filed Friday, Louis Migliaccio is suing the Boeing Company and Kevin Martin, whom the suit identifies as a first level flight readiness technician inspector supervisor.
Migliaccio’s lawsuit claims he started with Boeing in August 2007 and most recently worked as a flight readiness technician inspector. When he started with the company in Seattle, he was a member of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 751 union, the suit states.
The lawsuit claims that during Migliaccio’s employment, several flight readiness technicians and inspectors have quit but were not replaced, reducing the workforce by approximately half of what it previously had been. Boeing, the suit claims, compensated for the “overwhelming short staff condition by implementing mandatory overtime.” The suit also claims management has “no idea the skillset required to complete the unfinished work and only required bodies instead of tailoring the work force to the tasks,” which led to frustration Migliaccio says paved the way for the union to be voted into the facility by its mechanics.
He says treatment toward employees that voted for the union in changed. His suit also claims that on Oct. 12, 2018, he was reassigned from one stall in which most employees were union supporters to a different stall in which most employees did not support the union.
The suit describes an incident that occurred on Oct. 12, 2018, in which Migliaccio, while on break, walked across the flight line taxiway and noticed blue lights flashing but did not see planes moving on the taxi way. In the suit, Migliaccio claims he walked across the taxi way and was approached by a cart with someone yelling but stated he could not hear what was being yelled. He walked past the taxiway gate and, when walking alongside one of the buildings, saw an airplane come down the taxiway.
The suit claims the blue lights, which are meant to indicate employees should not enter the taxiway, come on several times a day, but that “employees frequently enter the taxiway when the blue light is on and were not disciplined, suspended or terminated.”
“Supervisors and managers are consistently on the flight line area,” the suit states.
When Migliaccio returned to work, he was speaking with a flight readiness technician who is also a union steward when the two were approached by Martin and a second manager and two armed security guards, the suit states.
The second manager said they needed to speak with him, confirmed it was about the “blue light incident,” and asked for Migliaccio’s badge, the suit states. Migliaccio says he was placed on suspension with pay and was asked to return a few days to issue a statement.
He said he requested permission to attend an anger management program through the company’s employee assistance program but said none of the three managers he contacted via text responded to the request.
He was then terminated for crossing a closed flight line, the suit states. However, Migliaccio claims the real reason for the termination was his safety complaints regarding lighting, failure for more stringent walk-throughs, tool accountability and his involvement in the union.
Migliaccio is alleging wrongful termination and negligent supervision of an employee against Boeing, slander against Martin. Migliaccio claims Martin “published false statements about [Migliaccio’s] work performance and issues regarding violations of policy.” The suit alleges the purpose of doing so was “to strike fear into the hearts of others that had made safety complaints and joined the union” and to force Migliaccio’s termination and damage his reputation in the airline industry.
The suit seeks actual, consequential and punitive damages.
Boeing spokesperson Elizabeth Holland issued this statement about the lawsuit:
“Boeing flight line safety procedures require that there be no pedestrian activity on the active flight line when aircraft movement is imminent or in progress. Louis Migliaccio was terminated for intentionally disregarding this procedure and crossing the Boeing South Carolina flight line, which was closed for a taxiing aircraft. Mr. Migliaccio was aware of this safety rule and had been expressly warned not to do so by a manager. He responded with profanity and crossed the flight line anyway, which clearly constituted a terminable offense under Boeing South Carolina’s safety and conduct policies.
Boeing is committed to creating a safe workplace. Our safety standards are designed to protect all teammates.”