Ida Gomez Llanos worked as a flight attendant at Delta and predecessor carriers for 57 years. She had the fifth most seniority out of all of their cabin crew. She was fired back in April, and she’s suing.
She says that her seniority meant she was earning $250,000 a year as a flight attendant and that Delta just wanted to replace her with someone cheaper and younger and she says “her bosses dismissed her for taking a carton of milk off a plane after her line manager gave her permission.”
Ms. Llanos reports that she was accused “of sleeping, of taking chocolates, not doing a good job” but says none of that is true, and she has letters of thanks from customers that suggest she provided exemplary service. She also says she was accused “of not being able to arm or disarm the doors” but she demonstrated consistently in training that she could.
She says she was a great employee,
I haven’t called in sick for thirty or forty years. .Every year they had a banquet for the top 1% who had the most letters from the customers. I went to that three times. I was nominated by the chairman’s club. I’ve had Flight Attendant of the Quarter; you get a little statue.
Llanos claims other cabin crew were out to get her.
Llanos said one flight attendant claimed she put Bailey’s Irish Cream in her coffee at work and stole a chocolate bar, despite the Arkansas-born 79-year-old protesting that she doesn’t drink and avoids sugar due to diabetes in her family.
And in another alleged smear attempt, one colleague took a photo of cereal packets next to a flight attendant’s purse, claiming Llanos was trying to steal food meant for passengers.
‘They accused me of taking nine cereals. I’m 85 lbs, I don’t eat a lot. What would I do with nine cereals? And I would never do it in the first place.
‘Somebody staged this… But it wasn’t my purse, because my purse was in a closet across the way. They were trying to sabotage me’
She began working for Bonanza Airlines in 1962. Bonanza eventually became Air West, renamed Hughes Airwest, which was acquired by Republic in 1980 and merged into Northwest in 1986 – and then into Delta in 2010.
Reportedly her termination was for “improperly pa[ying] a co-worker to work her position and later fail[ing] to work at her designated position on a different flight. She was also accused of stealing aircraft items for personal use and spiking her coffee with alcohol during a flight.”
According to Delta, “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.” They seem confident they made the correct decision here.
U.S. labor law, of course, is different than in many parts of the world. In Australia a flight attendant was awarded six months’ pay after being caught stealing alcohol, because the government ruled such a penalty was ‘harsh’.
The case is Gomez Llanos v. Delta Air Lines, Inc., No. 19STCV41321 (Calif. Superior Court, Nov. 15, 2019)