Federal law demands that employers treat their employees equally, regardless of age, race, nationality or religion. Punishment or termination cannot be handed down based solely on these characteristics. Yet one flight attendant claims that this is exactly what happened to her when she was fired from her position on NBA star Magic Johnson's private jet. She has since filed a wrongful termination lawsuit, claiming the basketball star discriminated against her based upon her age.
The 45-year-old woman began working on the Gulfstream jet in 2004, where her duties required her to cater specifically to her employer's desires. When she took time off in 2010 following an injury, she was temporarily replaced with a younger flight attendant. When she returned, she says Johnson became increasingly cold and indifferent towards her. Last September, the flight attendant arrived at the plane seven minutes late after being forced to wait in line at a deli to purchase specific types of meat for Johnson's meal. Two weeks later, she was fired. Her employer claimed she had been terminated for being "15 minutes late" for the September flight.
The flight attendant claimed she had been fired due to age discrimination, noting that the younger flight attendant replaced her immediately after she was let go. She is also claiming multiple labor code violations, stating that her employer failed to allow her sufficient time to rest or to eat.
It can be intimidating to file a lawsuit against a former employer, especially if the employer is famous or wealthy. Many workers believe they will not be able to prove they were discriminated against, or that they will not be able to win a fight against a large company. Failure to file a lawsuit, however, not only allows an injustice to go unpunished, but also makes it more likely that the company will wrongfully terminate other employees in the future as well.
It is unclear what the result of this woman's case will be, but regardless of the outcome she should be commended for her bravery in coming forward to defend her rights.
Source: ABC News, "Flight Attendant Claims Magic Johnson Fired Her For Being 7 Minutes Late," Abby Ellin, Oct. 25, 2012