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Delta Air Flight Attendant Claims Colleagues Called Asian Crew the ‘Chinese Mafia’ And Managers Defended Their Right to Free Speech

Delta Air Flight Attendant Claims Colleagues Called Asian Crew the ‘Chinese Mafia’ And Managers Defended Their Right to Free Speech

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An ex-flight attendant who was fired by Delta Air Lines for swapping trips with her colleagues claims other flight attendants called Asian crew members the ‘Chinese Mafia’ and would insinuate that Asian flight attendants got all the best international flights.

The crew member was employed as a lead flight attendant by Delta from March 2018 until she was terminated in September 2021 for swapping trips with her colleagues. She is now suing the airline for racial discrimination, retaliation and discrimination based on her national origin as an Asian American of Chinese descent.

Working out of Delta’s Detroit hub, she says she performed her role diligently as a flight attendant supervisor on longer international flights, but during her short time with the airline she faced comments and harassment from her colleagues that were based on her national origin.

She also claims white flight attendants would refer to Chinese or Asian crew members as the ‘Chinese Mafia’. White flight attendants would also insinuate that the ‘Chinese Mafia’ always got all the best international trips.

Describing the alleged animosity that some coworkers had towards Asian flight attendants, she recalled one incident in which a white attendant was admonished by a colleague for sitting down for food with her.

The ex-flight attendant brought these allegations to the attention of her supervisor in April 2021 when she was called into the office to answer questions about her scheduling habits and the trips she was swapping with her colleagues.

Although Delta flight attendants are free to swap, drop and pickup trips, she says her supervisors “singled her out” over her swapping habits. As a single mother, the woman says swapping helped her manage her family commitments.

Although her managers admitted that she hadn’t broken any rules, she says they stopped her from leaving the office until she had written a statement explaining her actions. She says she felt “like a prisoner” and rushed a statement so that she could leave and pick up her children.

The base supervisor allegedly refused to give her time to write the statement at a later date, despite the fact that English isn’t her first language.

After this incident, she filed a complaint of discrimination and was called to meet a more senior manager about her allegations. During this meeting, her manager allegedly said “America is a very free country and people can say what they want.”

A month before she was sacked, she was called into the office straight after working a 12-hour red-eye flight, where she was issued with a ‘final corrective action’ over her swapping habits. As a result of that meeting, she was barred from swapping trips for six months and put on a final warning for three years.

But within days, Delta suspended her for agreeing to pick up a colleague’s trip before she was even slapped with the swapping ban. A month later, she was told that she had been sacked.

In her lawsuit, she claims that another flight attendant of Chinese origin was sacked for a similar offense around the same time, while white flight attendants had swapped similar trips to Yin without repercussion.

The woman is claiming unspecified compensatory and punitive damages in the lawsuit that was filed last week in District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division.

Delta Air Lines did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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