Graduate Sues Mesa Air Group


Well-Known Member
Graduate Sues Mesa Air Group for Religious and
National Origin Discrimination

Phoenix, Arizona - An Iranian American graduate of
Mesa Air Group partner San Juan College filed a suit
with the U.S. District Court for the District of
Arizona on Monday, November 17, 2003 alleging
religious, national origin, and ancestry

Frank Nickman began First Officer training in Mesa Air
Group's two-year Aviation Degree Program at San Juan
College/Mesa Airlines Professional Pilot Development
in January 2001. He was the only student of Iranian
national origin and the only Muslim at the school.
Although Mr. Nickman graduated at the top of his class
and maintained constant honor roll status, Mesa Air
Group failed to hire him despite their own record of
hiring ninety-eight percent of graduates from this

In the suit, Mr. Nickman alleges he was subject to
discrimination and racial remarks by Mesa Air Group
employees even prior to the events of September 11th.
Such remarks included: "Go back to wherever the heck
you came from," "You should be glad we let you live in
this country," and "Financial aid is for Americans
first and foreign nationals second." His complaints
were met with tactics of intimidation and retaliation.

Following the attacks, the suit claims statements and
actions of discrimination intensified, despite
complaints to upper management, to include: "What cave
have you been hiding in?" "If you don't get hired by
Mesa, you can always train to be a terrorist," "The
Osama Bin Laden Scholarship Fund is paying for your
training," and a nickname was given to Mr. Nickman of
"terrorist in training." In addition, Mr. Nickman was
asked by instructors in front of other student whether
he had been interviewed by the FBI yet, what his
"real" name was, where he was "really" from, and
whether he was a practicing Muslim.

Mr. Nickman has suffered significant economic losses.
In addition giving up a job to participate in the
program, Mr. Nickman spent $50,000 on tuition and more
of his own money traveling to Arizona from California
for several emotionally distressing and unfruitful
interviews. Mesa Air Group's refusal to hire him
caused Mr. Nickman to also lose his First Officer
salary. As the flight time requirement for Mesa Air
Group graduates of the Aviation Degree Program is less
than industry norms, Mr. Nickman is unable to seek
similar positions with other airlines and is,
therefore, deprived of his First Officer salary (and
the subsequent Captain salary) for the foreseeable
Questions may be directed to Deedra Abboud with
CAIR-AZ at 602-262-CAIR (2247)

Pretty disgusting if this is true.
I have heard from people that knew him that he just didn't make the cut and was poorly prepared for the interview.
Why do I see this one getting tanked over to Squawk Box?

This is the first I've heard of this, so I haven't done any research on it. These are my first impressions....

If his allegations are true, then something needs to be done. That being said.... maybe he wasn't up to par in the program. Having high grades in the classroom does not make you a hot pilot. I know a ton of guys who are smart, but I won't even get in a car if they are driving. It's my personal (although biased) opinion that this is someone who got through the program and blew the interview. Now he's either making things up or blowing things out of porportion. I know if I were in his shoes and these things were said to me, I would have said something RIGHT THEN. Not let it go until I needed them.

Besides, Delta didn't hire me. Can I sue them for my lost First Officer and Captain pay?

Now I'm off to see if I can dig up some press releases or something. Not likely the night before Thanksgiving.
Yeah I can't imagine something like that being tolerated here.

It seems pretty amazing to me that he could be so openly discriminated againsty by seemingly everyone in the program.

I don't know enough about what happened to make a call, but I suspect it might be sour grapes.
Yeah I can't imagine something like that being tolerated here.

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Don't underestimate the power of ignorance. I can believe that he heard a few derogatory remarks aimed at him especially after my friend was told by a drunken dumbass in a bar to "Get out of my country." My friend's family is from India but he was born in the US.
Yeah I can't imagine something like that being tolerated here.

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Don't underestimate the power of ignorance. I can believe that he heard a few derogatory remarks aimed at him especially after my friend was told by a drunken dumbass in a bar to "Get out of my country." My friend's family is from India but he was born in the US.

[/ QUOTE ] By "here" I meant here at Mesa Pilot Development. The story about your friend certainly doesn't surprise me. Unfortunately, I'm sure things like that happen all the time, I just can't imagine it happening so openly at MPD.
From the story he did seem to take a lot of abuse without speaking up...

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Whenever you're in the minority group and you're the one being picked on and insulted, it's really hard to open your mouth and say, "That's enough".
Yeah, I agree mtsu. If all of that is true, then it is totally the school's and the offending student's fault, not his for not speaking up.
If you're going to link to another site at least link to the specific thread.

What the Frank Nickman Article left out
Well someone wanted comment from somebody in Frank's class. Here it goes. The articles do contain some truth, however, they do not contain the whole truth. Frank is a great guy, and he is very bright, but as the old saying goes he is not a guy that I want flying my mom around. Frank made several bad aeronautical decisions while at MAPD, some of which I believe went into his file that accompanied him to his interview at Mesa.
One time he landed at a closed airport, on a closed runway. The main runway was being repaved and he landed on an old runway that had been closed for several years. The old runway was overgrown with bushes and cacti (this growth was all over the surface). He believed he was in a "fuel emergency" when his fuel gauges hit the yellow arc (1/4 tank each wing, 26 gal, or about an hour and a half of flight time). The airport manager had words with Frank after he landed at the airport. He took on full fuel, and according to Frank, the ground personnel had serious reservations about whether or not he would be able to lift off again on the usable surface. They helped push him as far back as they could and he "barely made it". The manager, obviously concerned about the event, called the flight school and the plane was sent for a MX inspection, upon return to FMN, where a cactus was found stuck in the wheel well.
In another incident he flew into a snowstorm and instead of turning around and going back, he tried to continue to his destination. The Bonanza he was flying was not equipped for flight into icing conditions. I believe he had to have someone come and take the plane back to Farmington for him.
Frank also had an incident with mainline Mesa at ABQ when he landed without clearance cutting off an Air Midwest 1900 because he dialed the wrong freq. When he got no answer, he just kept going, ultimately cutting off the 1900. The AMW crew called the school administration to report their displeasure about Frank’s flying.
I take personal offense to his claims of racist comments; I never heard any off color remarks made by anyone in our class directed at Frank. It is insulting to me as well as the rest of my class. We were nothing but supportive of each other and our collective dream to become pilots.
The articles also glanced over some aspects of Frank’s interviews. His first interview was with Freedom not Mesa. The story is he was hired but the contract issues played out and he never started ground school with Freedom. He was asked to interview again for Mesa and was given an interview as well as a second chance interview when the first one did not go well. Frank was not the only person in our graduating class not to be hired. There were two other students who did not get a job at Mesa. There is one person in our class who graduated but has not even interviewed yet. There were also other students that were refused hire on the first interview but were asked back for a second interview. The word from those who have gone through this second interview is that it is a much tougher interview than the first, usually conducted by Mesa’s chief pilot or one of the regional chiefs. (An understandable additional pressure)
It is important to differentiate between true discrimination and those who are playing the race card, I don’t doubt that Frank feels that discrimination played a role in his refusal for hire, but the facts speak for themselves.

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This issue has been beaten to a pulp and then some at the mesalounge. Sorry, but to most of us, it just seems a bit too convenient that this dude didn't get hired due to "racism."

If that truely is the case, why is he pumping gas? He hasn't even gone after his CFI yet!

This story aside, keep in mind: good grades don't do a damn thing when it's 200 / 1/2 in blowing snow and ice at 10pm on short final for 22 at LGA. Books give you the know-how, but only you can figure out how to apply that to become a safe pilot.

There are no good pilots ... only lucky ones.