Court Finds Northwest Had Good Reason to Fire Pilot

July 16, 2010 ( – Northwest Airlines Inc. did not illegally retaliate against a pilot by firing him after he was arrested for marijuana possession nine days after applying for disability retirement benefits, a federal judge has ruled. 

U.S. District Judge David S. Doty of the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota said plaintiff Caleb R. Sturge had not proven that his firing was linked to his disability application. 

Besides, Doty pointed out, Northwest had agreed to pay the disability payments and firing an employee who violated company policy by having and using marijuana was a legitimate exercise of the company’s authority.  

Doty also ruled that Sturge had not proven that similarly-situated pilots who violated the company’s drug and alcohol policy were treated more favorably than he was. 

The case is Sturge v. Northwest Airlines Inc., D. Minn., No. 05-1665 (DSD/SRN).