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‘David and Goliath’ Legal Battle Erupts Between American Airlines and Flight Attendant Who Became a Pandemic Whistleblower

‘David and Goliath’ Legal Battle Erupts Between American Airlines and Flight Attendant Who Became a Pandemic Whistleblower

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.

View Comments (4)
  • A whistleblower shares a meaningful violation by a company or government. Deidre is a whiny snowflake who didnt play by the rules. And now she wants $$$. Her PTSD claim is an insult to American service men. Shameful

    • Hi Ken! Thank you for joining us here in the year 2022! A 1950’s mindset isn’t going to get you far here.

      First, I believe what you meant to say was American service men AND WOMEN.

      Second, as someone who works in the mental health field, I can assure you that PTSD is not just reserved for American soldiers, but can affect anyone, of any gender or nationality. Additionally, everyone’s threshold for what might be considered traumatizing is different. As such, you have no right to judge how a situation affects another person, ESPECIALLY given the fact that I sincerely doubt you were present for any of the interactions between this flight attendant and management. How do you know what she endured? (You don’t.)

      Lastly, if you were to research this case, you would see that there never was a “rule” regarding face shields for this flight attendant to follow… that’s kind of the whole point… Management tried to enforce a “rule” that didn’t exist, and in doing so, they very much over-stepped… so how can you say she didn’t “play by the rules?” Do your research before leaving meaningless comments.

      Honestly, I will never understand people who defend giant corporations over a human being. Have you ever been involved in a legal battle? It’s not a fun time and is by NO MEANS an easy way to make financial gains. The only reason I could see for person to put themselves through the anguish of going up against a huge company like this would be to seek justice, and to try to make the workplace better for employees moving forward— forcing a company to think twice about how they are treating their employees.

      Deidre, if you’re reading this: I think you are incredibly courageous, and American Airlines needs to apologize and make things right for bullying and harassing you for doing the right thing during such an uncertain and scary time in our lives. Thank you for making it a point to protect everyone during that time, despite being told that company image was more important. Shame on American Airlines.

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