A former Delta Air Lines flight attendant says the company fired her for posting a cartoon to Facebook showing then-President Donald Trump wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood, according to a federal lawsuit.
Delta Air Lines told Leondra Taylor it “does not tolerate disrespectful, hateful, or discriminatory posts,” but she maintains the cartoon was the “opposite” — it was political instead, the job discrimination lawsuit filed Aug. 8 in Atlanta, Georgia, states.
The Facebook post showed Trump with the KKK hood next to Joe Biden, before his presidency, during a debate with a moderator saying, “Thank you Mr. President, for wearing your mask,” according to a complaint.
Taylor, who is Black, is suing Delta Air Lines for race discrimination after other employees, who are not Black, were not fired for sharing social media posts of a similar nature, the complaint says.
Delta Air Lines fired Taylor in April 2021 because the company said the cartoon she shared, along with other posts on her Facebook, was “racially motivated” and violated the airline’s social media policy, according to the lawsuit.
A company spokesman, Benjamin Zhang, told McClatchy News in a statement that “when Delta employees intermix Delta’s brand with conduct or content that does not reflect our values of professionalism, inclusion and respect, that conduct can result in discipline or termination.”
Delta Air Lines discovered the Facebook post of Trump after Taylor, who had worked as a flight attendant for Northwest Airlines before it merged with Delta around 2008, confirmed seeing a race-related post shared by another flight attendant, according to the complaint. The post’s “racial implications” offended her.
After Delta Air Lines fired this employee for violating other company policies, she provided Delta Air Lines a screenshot of a post that she said came from Taylor’s Facebook and celebrated the worker’s firing, the complaint says.
As a result, Delta Air Lines combed through Taylor’s Facebook in search of the alleged post but found the cartoon of Trump instead, according to the complaint.
On Jan. 6, 2021, Taylor admitted during a meeting with company officials that she shared the cartoon of Trump wearing a KKK hood, according to the lawsuit.
The complaint says the post “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,” but Taylor was told it was “not acceptable.”
The lawsuit argues Delta Air Lines violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and discriminated against her based on her race by firing her after her “non-African American employees were not subject to such harsh punishments.”
Zhang told McClatchy News that “while personnel issues are considered private between Delta and its employees, the circumstances described by our former employee are not an accurate or complete explanation of the company’s termination decision.”
Meanwhile, the complaint states “Ms. Taylor has been embarrassed, humiliated and has suffered damage to her emotional health, and has lost back pay and front pay.”
The lawsuit demands a trial by jury and seeks to recover damages including lost wages and attorney fees.