Magic Johnson’s personal flight attendant is suing him, claiming she was fired for showing up 7 minutes late, delayed at the deli picking up his preferred type of turkey.
His lawyers say she was 15 minutes late, though I wonder if the story has all of the relevant details. She probably should have turned up at the deli earlier and not been cutting it so close to flight time, and while the whole purpose of private aviation is to be able to fly when you’re ready to fly (not when your crew shows up) in addition to being able to fly non-stop from wherever you are to wherever you’re going, a one-time seven or fifteen minute mistake after years of service feels insufficient for dismissal.
Since she’s able to sue under California law, it’s also actionable.
Here’s what her job consisted of:
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.
While presumably intended to sound salacious, this description of life as a $100,000 a year flight attendant doesn’t sound unreasonable to me. It sounds like exactly what one would expect in the position, and that compensation is likely appropriate or more likely even generous for that. I don’t fly private, Magic Johnson does. And I do think that he should be able to insist on fresh licorice and an on-time arrival from the person assisting him inflight.
Her claims are greater than wrongful termination, she went on medical leave and the person who filled in for her while she was out was younger than her. When she was terminated, her temporary fill-in became her permanent replacement. So she’s claiming age discrimination. And since she claims that Magic Johnson wasn’t as friendly towards her after her return to work, she suggests that her late arrival was merely pretext for her dismissal so he could replace her with someone younger.
She claims she’s been unable to find work since the dismissal, I imagine it’s really tough to find a flight attendant position at $100,000 a year and tough to crack the major airlines as well and at nothing like what she was being paid. So I have no doubt that losing what was an incredibly sweet gig (even if she now complains it was too arduous and she didn’t get sufficient breaks) was hard on her.
And I would hope that after working for
JordanJohnson for several years, and being dismissed for what sounds like a relatively minor infraction, she would receive some sort of generous severance. In lieu of that, it will be interesting to see whether she prevails in court. Given that she’s suing in California, my guess is she walks away with a settlement.
(HT: One-man news clipping service Alan H.)