American Airlines is engaging in “reprehensible” behavior against one of its own flight attendants after she became a pandemic whistleblower over the airline’s face shield ban, alleges a prominent labor rights activist and union strategist who has taken on the case.
Ray Rogers, director of Corporate Campaign Inc, claims Boston-based flight attendant Deidre Daudt has been subjected to management “hostility and irresponsible decisions” over her choice to wear a face shield in addition to a face mask at the start of the pandemic in 2020.
Deidre took her concerns to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration after a base manager allegedly told her that face shields were against AA’s uniform policy and made customers “feel uncomfortable”.
She first wore a face shield in May 2020 but was quickly taken aside by managers on four consecutive flights. The airline allegedly told her the face shield breached “image standards” and that Deidre should take an unpaid leave of absence if she didn’t feel safe at work.
At the time, flight attendants were classed by the federal government as essential workers and Deidre wanted to carry on flying.
American Airlines later warned its entire flight attendant workforce that wearing a face shield was strictly prohibited, citing FAA regulations, and threatened crew members with possible disciplinary action if they ignored the policy.
Deidre filed a complaint with the Department of Labor and alleges AA retaliated by recording two “non-compliant performance events” on her file. These were later removed.
Only two months later, in July 2020, the airline performed an apparent u-turn and reversed its policy. At the time, a spokesperson said the airline had worked with the FAA and the flight attendant union to win a special exemption that permitted the use of a face shield.
Deidre says she was diagnosed with acute PTSD and anxiety due to the harassment and hostile work environment she says she experienced at the hands of AA’s managers.
She sought damages against American Airlines but OSHA dismissed her claim in March. Deidre is currently appealing that verdict and AA has hired the infamous labor and employment litigation firm, Littler Mendelson to represent its interests.
In the run-up to a deposition in a little over a week’s time, Littler Mendelson’s lawyers have attempted to “intimidate, harass and overwhelm” Deidre according to Rogers who says they are making “indefensible demands” and that their behavior is “uncalled for and reprehensible”.
Requests for Diedre to answer a “laundry list” of questions and provide reams upon reams of paperwork is a “deplorable strategy to overwhelm” her.
“So, here we have an unscrupulous group of millionaire executives, board members and lawyers ganging up on an unappreciated, undervalued, heroic eight-year flight attendant —who acted in an exemplary manner to protect herself, the health and safety of the cabin crew, passengers and the public— in what can only be compared to David vs. Goliath,” Rogers alleges.
Deidre says her goal is to hold American Airlines accountable for its alleged actions against her, as well as “unnecessarily endangering fellow flight attendants”.
“Obscene profits taking precedent over protecting health and safety have always been an issue,” Deidre says.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.