A former NetJets pilot is suing the company for sexual discrimination, claiming she was fired for being “too short” to fly the Embraer Phenom — while male candidates with height issues were reassigned to other aircraft.
Sheri Drerup, who’s been a professional pilot for over 14 years and logged more than 4,000 flight hours, detailed her hiring, training, and termination by NetJets today during a press conference in Los Angeles with her lawyer, Gloria Allred.
The five-foot, two-inch Ms. Drerup says that as part of the hiring and training process, all pilots were physically measured to ensure they’d fit into all the planes in NetJets’ fleet.
She purportedly had difficulty in the Phenom simulator performing full power single-engine and go-around maneuvers. She said she wasn’t able to depress the rudder pedals.
Ms. Dreup’s training pilot allegedly told her she was “just too short” for the airplane. He stated in a written report, “Sheri’s stature precludes sufficient control authority.”
NetJets purportedly suggested she wear platform shoes or use a booster seat to help remedy the situation.
She asked to transfer to a different aircraft — but claims the company told her that if she was too short for the Phenom, she’d be too short in their fleet’s other jets. However, she is type-rated for the Cessna Citation Encore+, which NetJets apparently had in their fleet at the time.
Three other pilots — all males — were too tall for the Phenom. She explains their feet got stuck under the rudder pedals.
All three men, she says, received reassignments to other NetJets aircraft — while she was terminated.
“It was terrible. I went there to have my dream job,” she says, adding NetJets “treated me like a criminal” while taking her gear.
Her chances of being hired by another charter outfit are slim, she said, because of her NetJets firing. She’s allegedly been told that because NetJets terminated her, the other companies aren’t interested.
Since has since worked as a contract/self-employed pilot.
Embraer Phenom’s Cockpit Too Tight?
Ms. Dreup said during the press conference that NetJets apparently had the Phenom’s cockpits resized — so a Keurig coffee maker could be inserted behind the right seat pilot.
What She’s Seeking in the Lawsuit
The federal lawsuit — filed in the eastern division of the southern district of Ohio — seeks “damages in an amount to be proven at trial,” Ms. Allred said. Specifically, she seeks remedy for “pain and suffering, economic damages,” while also asking for “other relief to which she may be entitled.