Lawsuit accuses airport of whistleblower violations, illegal hiring practices


by Adam Walser

Posted on February 21, 2011 at 7:15 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 21 at 11:59 PM

Louisville, Ky. (WHAS11) - Another lawsuit has been filed against the Louisville Regional Airport Authority.  It is the fourth one filed by a current or former employee in the past 4 years.

In the latest case, the Airport Authority's former human resources manager claims she was retaliated against for bringing to light illegal hiring practices.

Since Skip Miller was appointed executive director back in 2003, employees have accused him and the airport authority of sexual harassment, discrimination and now, retaliating against a whistleblower.

Miller was put on notice back in 2007 for problems with his leadership, but the latest plaintiff says the problems only got worse.

“I think Skip Miller is the main problem,” said Lana Reinhart, the plaintiff in the case.

Reinhart says she's speaking out against her former employer in hopes that something can be done to help the other 185 employees there.

Reinhart filed a lawsuit in Jefferson County Circuit Court alleging she was fired because she spoke up about mismanagement and violations of law.

She said cronyism was the norm at the Louisville Regional Airport Authority.

“We may have received 200, 250 resumes for a certain position that was posted. Before it was even posted, at times, they knew who they were going to hire,” Reinhart said.

Reinhardt says when she went to her boss to complain, “Her response was ‘I can't help you. I've got a mortgage to pay. You need an attorney.’"

Reinhart says the problems come from the top, Executive Director Charles "Skip" Miller.

“He always ruled through intimidation. His directors are all scared to death of him. They're all afraid for their positions. His deputies are all afraid for their positions,” Reinhart said.

WHAS11 contacted the Louisville Regional Airport Authority spokesperson. She said the Louisville Regional Airport Authority declined to comment on the lawsuit, saying the airport's policy is not to discuss pending litigation.

Miller has been named in lawsuits before.

In 2007, the airport authority paid former employee Mary Calhoun $60,000 after Miller sent her sexually suggestive e-mails.

“It certainly gives me concern as far as the content of this material,” said Mayor Jerry Abramson at the time.

The airport board put Miller on probation and Miller issued a letter of apology to employees.

But since then, three more lawsuits have followed.

In 2009, Farhad Hashemian sued the airport for racial discrimination after he was passed over for a promotion.

“All I wanted was equal opportunity to advance,” Hashemian said at the time.

After he sued, five inspectors he supervised were laid-off, purportedly for financial reasons.

“After they terminated the inspectors, they were in the board room and they were all laughing and said ‘Damn. We didn't get the one we wanted,’ which was Farhad,” Reinhart said.

Hashemian was eventually let go for medical reasons.

So was Ben Baylon, who sued the Louisville Regional Airport Authority last month for discrimination and wrongful termination.

WHAS11 contacted Mayor Greg Fischer’s spokesperson about the latest lawsuit, but did not hear back from him before our deadline.

The Airport Authority Board of Directors is scheduled to meet Wednesday.