Flight attendant fired by Delta alleges racial discrimination

A flight attendant who was fired by Delta Air Lines after posting a political cartoon on Facebook has filed a lawsuit alleging racial discrimination.

The former Delta flight attendant, Leondra Taylor, filed the lawsuit this month in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. The complaint describes how she was punished after posting a cartoon image of Donald Trump and Joe Biden during a debate. The Photoshopped image shows a Ku Klux Klan hood on Trump with the moderator “saying to him, ‘Thank you, Mr. President, for wearing your mask,” according to the lawsuit.

Delta allegedly told Taylor the company “does not tolerate disrespectful, hateful or discriminatory posts.” In her lawsuit, Taylor contended that her post was not hateful or discriminatory.

Taylor, who is Black, was suspended in February 2021 and was later terminated after being told that her political posts were “racially motivated,” according to the lawsuit.

Delta issued a statement saying: “When Delta employees intermix Delta’s brand with conduct or content that does not reflect our values of professionalism, inclusion and respect, that conduct can result in discipline or termination.”

The company added that “the circumstances described by our former employee are not an accurate or complete explanation of the company’s termination decision.”

Taylor’s post was discovered when Delta looked through Taylor’s Facebook posts in search of an alleged post about another Delta flight attendant who was deemed to have violated the company’s social media policy with a race-related post and was terminated, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that Delta’s non-Black employees were “not subject to such harsh punishments,” citing other controversial comments and memes allegedly posted by Delta employees who were not terminated.

The lawsuit alleges race discrimination and retaliation, and says the events caused Taylor to suffer “lost wages, emotional distress, humiliation and other indignities.” It seeks damages for lost wages, mental and emotional suffering, punitive damages and attorneys fees.

It’s not the first time social media posts by Delta flight attendants have prompted conflict.

In June 2020, a high-profile Delta flight attendant named Kevin Lee Jennings left the company after heightened scrutiny of her controversial social media posts about race issues over a period of years.

In 2016, a debate over police shootings on a Delta-run flight attendant Facebook page turned divisive, causing some to raise concerns about the tone of some of the vitriolic comments in the debate. The company removed the online thread, which prompted criticism from some flight attendants who were upset their opinions expressed on the page were taken down.