Is being seven minutes late grounds for dismissal?
Apparently so, says Latina Thomas, Magic Johnson’s former personal flight attendant, who claims to have been fired last month for being a tiny bit tardy.
Thomas, 45, is suing Magic Johnson Entertainment and Clay Lacy Aviation, her joint employers, in LA County Superior Court for age discrimination, wrongful termination and multiple labor code violations. Among other things, she claims the defendants failed to provide meal and rest breaks, pay her overtime, or keep accurate records of the hours she worked. She is seeking “compensatory damages” for the wages she was allegedly denied since she began working for him in 2004.
According to the lawsuit, Thomas, who worked on the basketball legend’s private Gulfstream jet, earned $75,000 a year and a $25,000 bonus. A third of her time was spent catering to Johnson’s requests: stocking the plane with newspapers, DVDs and “highly specific in-flight food and beverage choices,” such as red vine liquorice, which she was required to “regularly squeeze to make sure they were soft,” the suit claims. She was the only flight attendant on duty, and since she was so busy taking care of Johnson and his guests, she was never allowed full rest breaks or meal breaks.
In 2010, the suit alleges, Thomas–a former flight attendant for United–injured her wrist and took a medical leave. A “substantially younger” flight attendant took her place. When Thomas returned, Johnson became “less cordial” and “more standoffish and dismissive of her,” she alleges.
On Sept. 6, after trying to waiting at a deli counter trying to get “two types of specific turkey” for Johnson’s sandwich, she arrived at the plane seven minutes late. Two weeks later, Thomas was fired for being “15 minutes late” for the September 6 flight–a pretext, she alleges, for age discrimination, noting that she was immediately replaced with the woman who had filled in for her when she was on medical leave.
Thomas claims she has been “emotionally devastated” by the situation, and feels as if a “rug has been pulled out from under her,” according to the suit. Since she was “falsely terminated for her conduct” she claims she’s not able to find work again as a flight attendant, either by a private operator or an airline.
Neither Thomas’s attorney, William Becker, nor reps from Johnson’s company returned phone inquiries from ABC News. A representative from Clay Lacy Aviation in Van Nuys, Calif., had no comment.