A judge will have to decide whether any of the personal politics of an 82-year-old former Delta Air Lines flight attendant and supporter of former President Donald Trump will be heard by a jury impaneled for the plaintiff’s age discrimination and wrongful termination case.
Before losing her job in 2019 at age 78, plaintiff Ida Gomez-Llanos had 56 years of service in the sky with various companies, including Bonanza Airlines. She joined Delta in 2009 when one of her former employers, Northwest Airlines, merged with Delta. Gomez-Llanos also is suing four flight attendants, whom she alleges were jealous of her choice routes and high salary due to her seniority.
Gomez-Llanos says in her suit filed in November 2019 that she was fired under the excuse of having allegedly taken milk and other on-flight goods. But in their court papers, Delta attorneys maintain that unprofessional behavior towards co-workers and safety violations were among a slew of other reasons for the plaintiff’s termination. On Wednesday, Dec. 28, Delta lawyers filed court papers asking that a motion by Gomez-Llanos’ attorneys to exclude evidence of the plaintiff’s personal politics as evidence during the scheduled Feb. 6 trial be determined to be too broad.
“In this age discrimination and wrongful termination action, Gomez- Llanos’ political opinions are manifestly irrelevant to any claim, defense or to the issue of damages,” the plaintiff’s attorneys state in their court papers. But in their court papers, Delta attorneys challenge that assertion.
“It is clear through plaintiff’s production of text messages that she identifies as a Republican and a supporter of former President Donald Trump,” the Delta attorneys state in their court papers. “While her political party affiliation and political opinions are in themselves not directly relevant to her claims, her affiliation will arise in the context of plaintiff’s testimony concerning her activities following the end of her employment at Delta. These activities are relevant to her claims for emotional distress and economic damage.” Delta is entitled to cite Llanos’ political activities to rebut her emotional distress claims, the airline’s lawyers state in their court papers.
“(Llanos) was able to attend Trump rallies, show enthusiasm for supporting the Trump campaign and engage heavily in collecting signatures (in her hometown of Phoenix) for ballots as evident in her text messages,” the Delta lawyers argue in their court papers. “While the fact that plaintiff supported former President Trump is not in itself relevant evidence, these text messages are directly relevant to show plaintiff was able to engage actively in an ongoing political campaign after her termination and continue to find satisfaction and fulfillment in life through events outside of work.”
Llanos’ political statements also are embedded in texts referring to her attitude to China and people of Chinese descent, including one in which she said of the Biden administration, “Their attitude is keep those Chinese coming in–all the jobs are there, so they have all the money,” according to the Delta attorneys’ court papers. Other Llanos texts show a racial bias against two of the individual former co-workers she is suing, who she referred to as the “Chinese flight attendants,” the Delta attorneys state in their court papers.
In a sworn declaration, Gomez-Llanos says she flew an average of 250 hours per month at the highest rate of pay between 2015-19 and was able to do so because of her seniority.
“I believe I was harassed by fellow flight attendants who coveted the flight assignments I was able to hold,” Gomez-Llanos says. Gomez-Llanos says that in 2018, she filed one of many complaints with Delta management.
“In this complaint, I write that I was being bullied and slandered and that I did not deserve it,” Gomez-Llanos says. “I pleaded with Delta to stop the spread of vicious rumors about me. Specifically, I explained that a flight attendant had falsely alleged that I had put Bailey’s Irish Cream in my coffee. I asked that Delta do something to stop the harassment.”
The plaintiff further said she would not have put Bailey’s in her coffee because she does not drink alcohol.