Court rules in favor of American Airlines in flight attendant's gender discrimination case

By Charmaine Little | Sep 11, 2018

PHILADELPHIA – A flight attendant's accusations of gender discrimination against American Airlines did not fly in court, as Judge Eduardo C. Robreno has ruled in favor of the airline.

The U.S. District for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granted American Airlines its motion for summary judgment.

Laura Medlin, who is based out of the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, also alleged the airline subjected her to a sexually hostile work environment and infringed on her rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

The district court ruled in favor of American on Aug. 27 and granted the company its summary judgment.

In her claim, Medlin said that five flight attendants, who are all male, posted negative comments about her on a flight attendant Facebook page titled “Wingnuts.” She claimed the comments stemmed from her opposing opinions about labor union representation. 

While she didn’t pinpoint any particular incidents of sexual harassment after October 1, 2015, she filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on Aug. 1, 2016. She said she had been reporting complaints to the human resources department since 2011, but that all of them had been ignored. 

Still, the EEOC said Medlin failed to provide probable cause, so it dismissed her allegations, according to court documents. She then filed a lawsuit.

The district court also sided with American and first pointed out Title VII rules say a discrimination charge has to be filed within 180 days of the supposed incident.

Since she didn’t provide any occurrences after October 1, 2015, she surpassed the allotted timeframe. The court determined her claims were untimely.

As for Medlin’s first count of gender discrimination against American, the district court also said this complaint fell short as she never pinpointed an “adverse employment action,” in her complaint, according to the opinion. 

The district court handed down a similar ruling for the second count, which involved claims of a hostile work environment, and said it’s obvious the harassment issue was not severe enough to hold American responsible. “Insults in the workplace do not constitute discrimination, merely because the words have sexual content or connotations,” the court determined.

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