United Flight Attendant Fired For Covid Antics Sues Marriott For Ratting Him Out

United Airlines flight attendant Jonathan Ray tested positive for Covid-19 in April 2020. He landed at Newark airport and checked into the Marriott Courtyard Wilmington Downtown to quarantine.

The property reported the twenty year airline veteran’s behavior while on property to United. He was suspended from his job and then terminated. And he’s suing – Marriott – for interfering with his employment relationship.

The lawsuit alleges that the hotel reported to United that the flight attendant and “the gentlemen who was staying with [him] to provide care for him” didn’t take responsible quarantine precautions. For instance the hotel apparently reported that they spent time maskless in the lobby among other actions.

United apparently terminated his employment. He blames Marriott, and says they made all of this up about him. Four things strike me about the suit.

  1. He’ll bear a high burden if he needs to show the statements aren’t just wrong about his behavior, but materially so. If this were to go to a jury trial, to prevail he’d probably need to be able to offer some reason why the hotel would be motivated to concoct this – without a motive it seems unlikely a jury will believe this.

  2. I’d have assumed the booking was made by United Airlines which is how United first becomes involved. However this was in Wilmington, not near the airport. While the flight attendant reports to be a lifetime Titanium member of the Marriott Bonvoy program, presumably his quarantine hotel which was needed on arrival after an international flight was provided by the carrier. Oddly the lawsuit claims they only knew he was a United employee because he told them.

  3. The flight attendant is suing Marriott because “Marriott owns and operates” the property, however in fact the Courtyard Wilmington Downtown is operated by CN Hotels.

    Since Marriott neither owns nor operates the hotel I expect they’ll be able to get this suit dismissed and he’ll need to refile against that other plaintiff or further allege why the Marriott brand is responsible. Reading the complaint I sort of assumed the flight attendant was filing pro se but in fact appears to be represented by actual lawyers.

  4. If the allegations are false, and United terminated him on the basis of those false allegations, he’ll have a claim against the hotel operator (CN Hotels) I’d think. Most of the facts alleged in the complaint, such as what Marriott’s policies were for quarantining guests at the time, are extraneous to the issues in the case: did the hotel’s employees make false statements to United which led to the injury (termination)?

It’s not easy to get fired as a flight attendant at United Airlines. There are union contract procedures for this, negotiated by Sara Nelson’s AFA-CWA. He doesn’t appear to be suing United for wrongful termination, either. If he can’t provide a reason to believe that the hotel was making this up out of whole cloth, and that he was a model quarantine citizen, this lawsuit wouldn’t appear to be going anywhere.

(HT: One Mile at a Time)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Agree completely- then you get to contributory negligence even if it did somehow go to trial and unless all of this was made up he would be found to be largely responsible, through his actions, in the result. Just reporting his actions isn’t grounds for him to claim wrongdoing.

    BTW also agree w all your other points and expect this to get tossed quickly

  2. It’s curious that he chose to quarantine at a hotel two hours away from EWR. It’s not like there are no hotels in and near EWR.

    Did the Covid fog his brain and he thought he landed in Newark, DE?

  3. Or, imagine being magically whisked away to… Delaware. Hi. I’m in… Delaware.

  4. He’s not suing United for wrongful termination because he has access to the grievance process under the United-AFA/CWA collective bargaining agreement. He very well may have a grievance pending. Different forum, some different issues.

  5. A private investigator would probably come up with the reason this all happened very quickly. Either the guy annoyed hotel personnel somehow and they ‘reported’ him as revenge … or he did violate our sacred virus rules while at the hotel. Probably take a good PI ten hours to come up with the ‘evidence’.

  6. I think he should also sue someone (United?) for a HIPPA violation. Why does a hotel employee know his confidential medical information?

  7. The airlines are still knowingly exposing their flight crews to a deadly virus for the Almighty dollar. They’ve been doing it since it broke out in Wuhan, China in January of 2020.
    Ask any pilot who flew in there last year.

    Now that we know it was not a hoax and millions are dead, including many flight attendants, the airline says tough beans? Really?

    When the employee gets sick they stash them away in hotels. In some cases thousands of miles from home.

    Other infected employees quarantine at home like most people.

    When a Courtyard Marriott gets tired of monitoring sick United employees they complain to the airline. Then the airline terminates the employee because they don’t want to hear a Courtyard Marriott complaint about their infected employee.

    So much for 20 years of loyalty and dedication to United Airlines.

    This is a sketchy story but very revealing how an airline can screw over their employee and hope nobody hears about it. Shame on Courtyard Marriott and shame on United Airlines.

    I hope this guy gets justice and both the hotel and his former employer get smoked at settlement.

    Jimmy Mack

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