A 79-year-old flight attendant is suing Delta for firing her under false pretenses. She argues jealous colleagues targeted her because of her high salary. But Delta is standing by its termination.
Veteran Flight Attendant Sacked By Delta
Ida Gomez Llanos has worked for Delta and its predecessor for 57 years. She was the “top” flight attendant based on seniority at LAX and the fifth most senior flight attendant in the Delta system. Over that long career, she built up her salary to $250,000/year, about four times the average flight attendant salary.
Llanos claims that colleagues were jealous of her and conspired, with managers, to find a way to get her booted. Her co-workers “ratted” her out for stealing:
- Nine cereal bowls
- Bailey’s Irish Cream
- Chocolate bars
She was also accused of paying $100 to a colleague to “to help reach the tall bins while working at the galley” and not working her assigned position on another flight.
She denies all this, saying she does not drink alcohol and weighs only 85 pounds, therefore has no need for extra food. Since diabetes runs in her family, she also does not eat chocolate. The lawsuit also claims the flight attendant recanted his story about being paid $100 to help in Llanos’ duties.
But the final straw, according to her lawsuit (.pdf), was taking a carton of milk from an airplane. Llanos claims a line manager authorized her to do this, but she never did – instead she was caught by U.S. customs with a carton of milk she had purchased in an Australian supermarket.
The lawsuit alleges:
“Defendants should not have concluded that Ms. Gomez stole Delta milk because customs would not have flagged Delta milk.”
That’s not true, because Delta does not double-cater its milk in the United States on Australia flights.
Her grand conspiracy theory is that co-workers staged photos of food and drink in her bag because they were jealous of her high annual salary. The lawsuit alleges one flight attendant told others, “I am trying to get her fired any way I can!” before making defamatory false statements about her.
This flight attendant allegedly “would follow Ms. Gomez with her phone camera out and ready to take pictures of Ms. Gomez in the hope of catching her in a seemingly compromising position.”
Delta Stands By Lawsuit
A Delta spokesperson defended lawsuit, casting doubt on Llanos’s claim of discrimination.
“When a violation of company policy is identified or inappropriate conduct is reported, Delta conducts a thorough investigation to determine the appropriate course of action — considering many factors, including the employee’s overall performance record and length of service. Decisions like these are not made lightly or without a comprehensive review by many.”
But Llanos says that her 57-service was unblemished until her LAX-based colleagues began targeting her.
A jury trial has been requested.
I read all 29 pages of the complaint…it’s fascinating tabloid-style reading. This is a complex cases with many, many elements. It will be interesting to see if Delta fights this (six digit legal bills are a given, considering the scope of this case) or finds a way to settle with Llanos.
In the meantime, you won’t see Llanos on a longhaul Delta flight from LAX anytime soon.
(H/T: View from the Wing)