Transgender Former American Airlines Employee Drops Harassment Suit

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A transgender woman has dropped her lawsuit against American Airlines in which she alleged she was wrongfully fired in 2018 from her job as a customer service agent for complaining about discrimination and inappropriate comments by colleagues on the job.

Lawyers for plaintiff Monte Johnson filed court papers with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephanie M. Bowick on Friday asking that the case be dismissed “with prejudice,” meaning it cannot be revived later.

The court papers do not state whether a settlement was reached or if Johnson was not pursuing the case for other reasons. However, an Aug. 5 minute order in the case stated that the parties planned to attend a mediation session six days later.

The lawsuit also named as a defendant Kimberly Bailey, an American Airlines manager. The lawsuit’s allegations include wrongful termination, identity- and gender-based discrimination, harassment, retaliation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

In their court papers, American Airlines attorneys denied Johnson’s allegations and said she was fired for “multiple, serious violations of company policy.”

Johnson began working for American Airlines as a customer service agent in December 2012 and is a transgendered individual who identifies as a female, the suit filed in September 2020 stated. Although American Airlines knew of Johnson’s gender identity, she was often called “he” or “him” and called a male by American Airlines management and employees, the suit alleged.

A co-worker constantly asked Johnson if she had her sex change yet and the plaintiff always replied that such questions were inappropriate, the suit stated.

Johnson often complained about the alleged harassment throughout her employment, but the company did nothing, the suit states. Instead, American Airlines discriminated against her based on her gender identity and began retaliating against her, the suit alleged.

In July 2016, a passenger authorized Johnson to gather his personal information from the American Airlines computer, but the plaintiff mistakenly obtained data from another passenger and called that person, the suit stated. Johnson ended the call right away when she realized what had happened, the suit stated.

However, Bailey subsequently targeted Johnson in retaliation because of the plaintiff’s gender identity and both Bailey and another manager micro- managed and reprimanded the plaintiff for any type of work-related situation, the suit alleged.

Johnson was the only employee harassed with constant negative remarks about her work, despite being a seasoned veteran, the suit stated.

Another alleged example of retaliation occurred when a passenger wore a political slogan on his attire, which drew a complaint from another passenger who objected and complained to Johnson, the suit stated.

Johnson discussed the matter with her co-workers and they decided to allow the passenger to board without saying anything to him about the slogan, the suit stated.

However, Johnson was subsequently reprimanded by American Airlines and Bailey did not allow the plaintiff to give her side of the story, the suit stated.

The managers became “extremely harassing” of Johnson’s work-related decisions and the more she complained, the worse the backlash, according to the suit.

Johnson feared she would lose her job and complained to her union, but there was no resolution of her complaints, the suit states. Johnson was fired in August 2018, close to the time of her complaints internally and to the union, the suit stated.

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