An ex-flight attendant for Delta Air Lines who was fired for sharing a cartoon of then-President Donald Trump wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood on her Facebook profile is suing the Atlanta-based airline.
An African American lady named Leondra Taylor has accused Delta of racial discrimination and retribution in a lawsuit that was submitted on Monday to a federal court in Atlanta.
Taylor was a seasoned flight attendant who had previously worked for Northwest Airlines and Delta Airlines before being fired on April 12, 2021, for posting a political statement with racist overtones on social media.
Among U.S.-based airlines, Delta has one of the strongest staff social media policies, but this hasn’t stopped a number of high-profile controversies.
A “famous” Delta flight attendant was fired in June 2020 after making a number of racially charged tweets on Black Lives Matter. Despite prior accusations against Kevin Lee Jennings, the most recent lawsuit asserts that Delta only took action as a result of media attention.
After Taylor assisted in a case against yet another flight attendant who was terminated for sharing a contentious photograph on social media, Delta began to search through Taylor’s social media history.
The flight attendant in that incident posted an image of the former first lady Michelle Obama next to a photo of a monkey with similar-looking attire. Taylor acknowledged seeing the image and being offended by the post’s racist overtones when approached by supervisors.
A complaint was filed against Taylor not long after the flight attendant was let off, stating that she had posted on Facebook to celebrate the termination. Taylor denied the charge, and it was never discovered that she had ever written the allegedly offensive Facebook post.
Nevertheless, according to the lawsuit, Delta persisted in looking into Taylor’s Facebook and demanded that she provide proof that there was no evidence to support her assertions. Managers searched through her social media accounts during this time and found a cartoon she had drawn of the late President Trump sporting a Ku Klux Klan hood.
The cartoon showed Trump and Joe Biden debating who should be president during the pandemic. “Thank you Mr. President for wearing your mask,” the moderator is saying to Trump.
Taylor acknowledged sharing the cartoon and acknowledged that it was political, but she refuted claims that it was disrespectful, intolerant, or prejudiced.
“In fact, her post was quite the opposite. It simultaneously made a statement about Trump’s denial of the need for COVID protective measures, and that racial discrimination against African Americans was a systemic issue starting at the top, with the then president,” the lawsuit explains.
Taylor’s firing from Delta after a February 2021 social media posting that was deemed to be “racially motivated.”
Taylor asked for aid from an internal division known as the in-flight conflict resolution panel, which could look into the specifics of her termination and undo the punishment if it saw fit.
However, it is claimed that Delta’s human resources division has declined to give the CRP information about the issue.
Taylor is now claiming that Delta engaged in racial discrimination in violation of the Civil Rights Act by not punishing non-African American employees for identical violations of the social media policy.
Ed Bastian, the CEO of Delta, was compelled to address the staff in 2020 after the Jennings issue gained widespread attention. According to Bastian, the airline won’t “tolerate acts or words that are racist, prejudiced, or hateful in our workspaces or directed at our personnel.”
“This includes racial and other bigoted, hateful and offensive comments on social media by Delta people, which hurts our culture and our people,” the memo continued,” a two-page memo continued.
Regarding Taylor’s case, Delta has been approached for comment.