Jonathan Ray was a United Airlines flight attendant for more than 20 years. Now he is suing Marriott after staying at a hotel franchise that “ratted” him out to United for conduct he claims he did not commit.
United Flight Attendant Sues Marriott For Job Termination
In April 2020, Ray was informed by United that he had tested positive for COVID-19. He had recently completed trips to Germany, India, and Ireland. After landing in Newark, he drove down to the Courtyard by Marriott in Wilmington, Delaware and checked himself in, along with his partner, in order to quarantine.
During his stay, Marriott closely monitored Ray and was in touch with United Airlines. It is not clear if it was Marriott or United that initiated the contact. In either case, Marriott informed United that Ray and his partner:
- Did not observe COVID-19 protocols (Ray’s lawsuit claims none were in place)
- Did not remain in their room
- Sat in the lobby without a mask
After checking out, the hotel contacted United and said that Ray “did not take the quarantining instructions seriously” even though Ray claims none were given.
United placed Ray on leave then fired him after conducting an investigation.
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Ray is suing Marriott, but Marriott does not own or operate the Courtyard property where the incident took place. Instead, View From the Wing notes that CN Hotels owns this property, which means the lawsuit will likely be dismissed (though can be refiled against CN Hotels).
Live and Let’s Fly reached out to the Michael Leonard, the attorney representing Ray, to clarify a few issues. Ray paid for the first 5-6 days at the hotel, then United took over payments. Asked about potential video surveillance footage to clear or condemn his client, Leonard sad:
“I am not aware of any security footage that they – Marriott – possessed or possess supporting any claim of misconduct by Mr. Ray. They have never claimed or indicated that any such footage exists, nor did they provide any to me.”
Leonad declined our request to interview Mr. Ray.
Live and Let’s Fly also reached out to the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), the union representing United flight attendants. United generally does not just fire a flight attendant; it must work its way through a grievance process and the AFA is known as zealously defending its flight attendants. Even if a flight attendant is fired, the AFA may assist in an arbitration process to restore the flight attendant to employment.
A spokesperson for AFA declined to comment on the specifics of the case, but did note that as a general policy United pays for quarantine if a flight attendant contracts COVID-19 on a duty trip.
Asked about AFA’s defense of Ray, Leonard said, “I would argue not strongly enough.”
Motive is key here. I am not taking a position on this case, but what would motivate the hotel to “rat out” a customer, particularly a Marriott Lifetime Titanium Member, except for poor behavior? Why would Ray insist there was no COVID-19 protocols in place if he followed the guidance of the hotel?
We will be following this case closely. You can read the complaint here.