In Los Angeles, an employer can choose to fire an employee for almost any reason, or even no reason at all. This is because many employment contracts are considered to be at-will, which means that employers have no legal obligation to keep an employee for a specific duration of time unless specified otherwise in an employee’s contract.
However, there are exceptions to at-will rules in California. When these exceptions are violated, employees have every right to pursue wrongful termination lawsuits. For example, employers cannot legally fire an employee when the decision violates workplace discrimination laws.
Last month, a personal flight attendant who worked for Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr. was fired because she showed up seven minutes late for a flight. The woman is 45 and had been a flight attendant for almost 20 years. She was hired to work for the basketball legend in 2004. However, the former flight attendant claims that the real reason she was fired is her age. She is now suing Johnson for wrongful termination, age discrimination and other violations.
The woman acknowledges that she arrived late for a flight last month. However, the woman was late because she was catering to Johnson’s specific request to get him a sandwich with two different kinds of turkey on it. The woman said that it was not unusual for Johnson to make very specific requests for food and beverages during his flights. Due to these requests, the woman often worked overtime without being able to take proper rests and breaks. The lawsuit claims that the woman was not paid overtime wages and that Johnson violated labor laws by failing to give the flight attendant breaks.
In addition to these violations, the former flight attendant claims that Johnson used the woman’s tardiness for one flight as an excuse to fire her last month. She believes she was fired because Johnson wanted to replace her with a younger flight attendant. A much younger woman was hired to replace the former flight attendant when she was terminated, the lawsuit states.
The woman is seeking compensation for damages. She says the incident has caused economic problems and emotional distress.
Source: ABC News, “Flight Attendant Claims Magic Johnson Fired Her For Being 7 Minutes Late,” Abby Ellin, Oct. 25, 2012