Terminated Flight Attendant in Texas Sues Southwest Airlines

A Harris County, Texas, woman who suffers from diabetes and depression is suing Southwest Airlines Co. for wrongful termination.  The woman, a former flight attendant, is filing a suit because she says the airline fired her because of her illnesses. Her conditions do not prevent her from fulfilling her job, and she believes she is being fired because of her health issues.

The woman worked as a flight attendant for Southwest Airlines from 1995 until her termination in 2012. Her former employer states that her termination, occurring on a day she showed up four minutes late to work because of inclement weather, was for a breach of the attendance policy. However, the woman believes her health and disabilities were the true cause of the firing.

The flight attendant’s case gets to the heart of what so many disabled and sick employees go through when on the job. They often feel as though their employers are hunting for any reason to fire them because they cannot legally dismiss them because of health issues—conditions that may cause them to need to visit doctors, undergo hospitalizations, and, of course, take time off. 

Most workers are protected from such terminations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and are provided with time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Nevertheless, disabled employees fear being late, fear going a moment over break, fear constantly that their job is on the line; and that fear in itself can pose a health risk if it leads to constant stress.

It may be possible that a 17-year veteran employee may have suddenly developed and habit of arriving to work late; on the other hand, it is possible that a company does not want to deal with the medical issues of its employees and so it neglected to respect this woman’s federal employment rights. It will be interesting to view the outcome of this case and learn whether the company did, indeed, violate this woman’s employment rights.

Source: Southeast Texas Record, “Former flight attendant takes Southwest to court for wrongful termination,” John Suayan, July 29, 2013