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Ford v. Delta Air Lines, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

June 19, 2019

Diane Ford, Plaintiff,
v.
Delta Air Lines, Inc., Defendant.

          David Andrew Berlin, Esq. and Weisberg Law, 7 South Morton Ave., Morton, PA 19123 and Brian R. Mildenberg, Esq. and Mildenberg Law Firm, PC, 1735 Market Street, Suite 3750, Philadelphia, PA 19103, counsel for plaintiff.

          JoLynn M. Markison, Esq. and Dorsey & Whitney LLP, 50 South 6thStreet, Suite 1500, Minneapolis, MN 55402, counsel for defendant.

          ORDER

          David S. Doty, Judge

         This matter is before the court upon the motion to dismiss by defendant Delta Airlines, Inc. Based on a review of the file, record, and proceedings herein, and for the following reasons, the motion is granted.

         BACKGROUND

         This employment dispute arises from plaintiff Diane Ford's claim that Delta discriminated against her on the basis of age and subjected her to a hostile work environment. Ford, who is fifty-eight years old, has been a flight attendant with Delta since 1987. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 2, 38.

         In June 2017, Delta investigated Ford for violating company policy by providing a sick colleague with a union card during a flight. Id. ¶¶ 9-10. Ford denied the allegations. Id. ¶¶ 12, 13. On August 7, 2017, Delta placed Ford on probation for eighteen months for "reliability issues." Id. ¶ 16. In addition to the union card issue, Delta accused Ford of allowing economy passengers into the first class bathrooms. Id. ¶ 18. Ford received a "write up" from her manager for doing so. Id. Later that month, Ford's manager accused her of taking improper sick leave and checking in late to a flight, both in 2016. Id. ¶¶ 19, 20. Ford denied any impropriety. Id. Ford alleges that she was thereafter "terrified" to go to work because she feared that Delta would find any reason to terminate her employment. Id. ¶¶ 23, 34. She also alleges that she lost "significant wages" as a result of not reporting for work. Id.

         Ford appealed her probation through Delta's conflict resolution process. Id. ¶ 24. Ford alleges that Delta dropped the "charges" against her just days before the appeal hearing. Id. ¶ 25. According to Ford, however, the probationary period remained in place. Id. ¶ 27. She alleges that her appeal panel advocate directed her to contact Delta's discrimination claims department because the charges against Ford had been baseless. Id. ¶¶ 25-26.

         Ford alleges that she complained about her treatment numerous times and requested that Delta remove the incidents leading to her probation from her personnel file. Id. ¶¶ 28-32. Delta declined to do so. Id. ¶ 33.

         It appears that between late February and August 2018, Ford experienced no problems with her employer. See id. ¶¶ 31-35. Then on August 5th, Ford's manager told her that her hair was too long. Id. ¶ 35. Ford alleges that the manager did not similarly chastise a younger flight attendant with longer hair who was nearby. Id. ¶ 36. Ford does not allege that she was disciplined relating to the incident. It appears that she is still employed by Delta and that her probationary period is over.

         Ford believes that she has been disciplined and harassed by Delta due to her age. In addition to the incidents described above, Ford also alleges that Delta has a policy of hiring younger flight attendants at the expense of flight attendants over forty years old. Id. ¶¶ 40-43. Because Delta does not plan to expand its workforce, Ford alleges that it is instead using "pretextual, embellished or untruthful allegations" to terminate older flight attendants to make room for new, younger employees. Id. ¶¶ 44-45. She cites to other alleged examples of Delta's age discrimination gleaned from "publicly available sources" to support her theory. See id. ¶¶ 50-54.

         Ford filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on May 19, 2018. Dobson Decl. Ex. A. The EEOC issued a right-to-sue notice on September 18, 2018, and this suit followed. ECF No. 1 Ex. A. On March 28, 2019, Ford filed an amended complaint alleging age discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA), hostile work environment, and violation of Title VII.[1] Delta now moves to dismiss.

         DISCUSSION

         I. ...


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