Flight simulator instructor fired after CNN gig sues employer
TORONTO – Mitchell Casado, better known as a the flight simulator guy used by CNN during the search for Flight MH370, rose quickly from obscurity to international celebrity.
But now he is unemployed and, he claims, unemployable. He was fired abruptly by his employer and he told Global News exclusively that he is now filing a wrongful dismissal suit, claiming the manner of his dismissal has tarnished his name.
Casado’s brush with fame came during CNN’s endless coverage of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370.
For hours on end for close to a month Casado was doing live appearances with correspondent Martin Savidge from a flight simulator at uFly in Mississauga.
The all news channel discovered that the story produced a big bump in ratings and made a controversial choice to commit to wall-to-wall coverage, even when there was precious little news to report.
Casado helped fill that vacuum with running commentary on the mechanics of a Boeing 777, as displayed in the simulator.
Other firms that have simulators typically refuse all requests from media to speak about air disasters. But uFly jumped into the breach. First NBC came calling and then CNN booked uFly and milked it. He and Savidge logged hundreds of hours, at one point someone even created a joke twitter hashtag: #freemartinsavidge.
WATCH: Was the company right to fire instructor Mitchell Casado because he”dressed like a teenager” and “shamed Canadians”
But then on April 16, Casado was abruptly fired by his employer. uFly owner Claudio Teixeira told the Associated Press that Casado had been warned about being late for his regular shifts. But what really hurt were the comments about his clothes. There was much commentary about his jeans and checked shirts—and his boss took notice.
“Even though I let him be on TV, he shamed us Canadians and shamed my company with the way he was dressing like he was 15 years old,” Teixeira said to AP.
Sitting in his lawyer’s office in downtown Toronto, Casado claimed that he had been blindsided by it all, that there had been no complaints about his performance, including any alleged tardiness. He received two weeks pay and was shown the door—the day after he was required to train his replacement. Since then, he says he has become the butt of ridicule on the internet and unable to find work.
“It gets me down to be quite honest with you,” he said.
“I haven’t able to sleep properly, haven’t been able to eat. It’s affected me in really an all encompassing way.”
Watch: (Thu, Apr 17) Canadian flight simulator company fires instructor who appeared on CNN
He says the choice of clothes was not his. CNN was concerned about his habit of wearing white shirts, which can be problematic on camera.
“The way I was dressed on CNN was because CNN wanted me to dress that way,” he said. “They physically took me to the store, took out their AMEX and said you’re going to wear this, this and this.”
His lawyer, Muneeza Sheikh of Levitt & Grosman, told Global News that it is not a straightforward wrongful dismissal suit.
“The case actually relates to a violation of his human rights. There’s been defamatory and slanderous remarks made about him by his ex employer,” she said.
“So that has really widened the scope from what should have been a simple wrongful termination case.”
Sheikh and Casado were still working on the details but she said, given the circumstances, there would certainly be a call for punitive damages and a claim that would be in the millions of dollars.
“Really the sky is the limit at this point.”
Global News contacted uFly for comment and the firm responded in an email: “We are not aware of any such lawsuit being contemplated and are not in a position to comment at this time.”
The court documents had not yet been filed.