Greta Anderson vs. American Airlines (AAL) Corporation
Federal Court to Hear Greta Anderson vs. American Airlines (AAL) Corporation
By Mark J Murray - Monday, June 23, 2008
On July 7, 2008 (r) C-05-4292 Greta Anderson vs. American Airlines (AAL) Corporation trial is scheduled to begin in the US District Court, Northern District of California chambers of the Honorable Judge Susan Illston, Courtroom 10, 19th Floor of the Phillip Burton Federal Building & U.S. Court House, 450 Golden Gate Ave in San Francisco. It will be a groundbreaking case in proving employee disability discrimination and wrongful termination under formal laws against a company that did everything they could to ruin Ms. Anderson's reputation and livelihood as a career flight attendant with American Airlines. The case will also show how companies are aggressively using prejudicial psychological testing of employees to remove them from there positions. It will also challenge aspects of 'patient rights' to medical records; to the withholding of disability payments; to the removal and dissolving of thirty year earned medical and health insurance by the airline-employer.
The case has taken some four years to get to court after evidence was gathered to show support of American Airline's alleged patterns and intentional design to remove Ms. Anderson from her position with the company. It will show a reprehensible example of management's handling of an individual employee who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time innocently becoming an in-flight assault victim, causing her to become a victim's advocate for other cabin crew members and only then to be re-victimized by the airline employer. Ms. Anderson had been a dedicated flight attendant/employee for American Airlines from 1976 until she was finally forced out of the cabin in 2003 and fired in 2005; she loved her job, the industry and the life long career she had developed.
Ms. Anderson's troubles with American Airlines began after she was assaulted by passenger Danielle Bellon Pontie, a French V.I.P. traveling internationally, on May 5th, 1995. The multi-lingual Ms. Anderson, first class flight attendant for the airline, was attacked from behind with a kick to her lower right sacrum by the wife of French aristocrat Guy Pontie. Ms. Anderson had been requested by other flight attendants, because of her ability to speak several languages, to help Mrs. Pontie's husband with inquiries regarding their changed flight connections in Dallas Fort Worth due to a company flight delay in departure from Guadalajara Mexico. Upset about the two hour delay and that they were going to mis-connect onto their flight to Paris, Mrs. Pontie wanted to take her anger out on the airline and the closest representative in uniform for American at the time was Ms. Anderson, whom she viciously assaulted from behind, injuring her and disabling her from her work duties. Due to the severity of her injuries, Ms. Anderson was carried off the aircraft on a stretcher and then taken to a local DFW hospital where she was held over for treatment and care. Although assault on an airline cabin crew member is a federal crime, American Airlines coddled, protected and accommodated the Pontie's, continuing to assist them in getting to their final destination (Paris, France) and did their best to keep Ms. Anderson from filing charges against Mrs. Pontie.
Ms. Anderson was a working, on-duty cabin crew member who was in the midst of performing her in flight safety and service duties at approximately 35,000' feet of altitude. The unprovoked assault and battery broke Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) 91.11 (an offense for which the federal authorities later detained Richard Reid for the attempted in-flight shoe-bomb incident). This should have led to the immediate arrest of the Mrs. Pontie just as it has in the recent assault on flight attendant Paul Whyte, on a Jet Blue flight that was en route from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York to San Francisco, CA on this past Tuesday June 19th. But the American Airlines and federal authorities who were called to the scene after the plane landed chose to do nothing in regards to the assault, even though it was a federal crime, or detain Mrs. Pontie who did not have diplomatic immunity until charges could be filed. Instead the assault was minimized by both the airline and agents of our U.S. Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) and, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) which had the responsibility to uphold and enforce both the civil and criminal prosecution of the infractions against Federal Aviation Laws (FARS) that affected Ms. Anderson and would have affected any other person on the flight including the Pilot's and which Mrs. Pontie blatantly broke. This is known because as she was recovering from her injuries, Ms. Anderson was told not to talk about her experience by American Airlines and was discouraged by both the FBI and the FAA from proceeding further in regards to identifying and pressing charges against Mrs. Pontie and her husband. The FAA agents responsible for the investigation of this in-flight assault trivialized its importance as did American Airlines management members and both American Airlines and the FAA referred to the assault against Ms. Anderson as "alleged" in various evidentiary documents, showing a persistent campaign to delegitimize the importance of this vicious in-flight assault and battery against Ms. Anderson.
Within the first twenty-four hours an airline manager had told Greta Anderson that if she had any regard for her twenty year career, she would ignore the assault. The threat put at risk everything she had worked for, if she looked into the identity of her in-flight assailant or spoke to the press, lawyers or any special interest groups. Yet Ms Anderson persisted in following up on the assault and finding out the identity of her attackers. She had previous experience in dealing with domestic violence against herself and was helping to support others in the Houston, Texas; area as a victim's rights advocate. Because of these experiences she chose to pursue her rights as an individual and a US citizen, faced her assailant in court and was victorious. In February of 2000 she won possibly the largest Air Rage Case, (Greta L. Anderson vs. Guy and Danielle Bellon Pontie: 1996 2000), yet heard and tried in a U.S. Federal Court that was also then approved through The Hague and is currently, even now, being pursued in the French Courts system for enforcement of the U.S. $525,000.00 award. [Refer: Michael Pangia, Washington, D.C.]. [202-955-6450]
As a result of her assault and in defiance of threats she had received from both her employer (American Airlines) and from the Federal Government officials (both the FBI and the FAA); Ms. Anderson began to speak out at air transport meetings on "Air Rage." American Airlines then pursued a number of negative personnel actions against Ms. Anderson, including her firing in 2005 (after 28 years of stellar performance on the job), and the loss of her health insurance and further work recommendations. Her offense was her legal request for her medical records from a psychiatrist the company had hired to test her. Previously she had no record of bad behavior (company theft, rudeness to clientele, delinquency or lapses in safety matters, etc etc). The airline started determinedly on a campaign to use 'psychological evaluations and psychiatric profiling', forcing her into redundant reviews and testing in 1995, 1997, 1999 (twice), an attempt in 2001 and finally in 2003 - 2004 [This history will be laid out in court]. It appears that through this process American Airlines engaged in "psychiatrist shopping" as a way to disqualify her, until they found an expert who would deliver what they wanted and then Ms. Anderson was removed from her position.
Since she was unable to continue to work in her chosen career as a flight attendant and due to the erroneous psychological reports against her, Ms. Anderson --- a single mother of two children--- has been forced to take a series of low-paying jobs so she could raise and support her children, while struggling with American Airlines to clear her name and reputation. With her health insurance gone, she has suffered from difficult health problems that she has no money to treat. Nonetheless, she has never given up her struggle to hold American Airlines accountable for the damage done to her, and to protect other cabin crew members from assaults by unruly passengers and violence aboard U.S. Commercial Airliners and subsequent cover- up by their airline employer. She made presentations on Capital Hill as well as other national conferences and seminars. These included being the opening speaker at the SAS "Unruly Passenger Conference" in Stockholm, Sweden, on June 28, 1998, where she presented data, research and papers in regards to the problem. Her case demonstrates the extreme lengths that large corporations and even our own government is willing to go, to punish those who speak out against unethical practices or dangerous situations in the workplace. Since her decision to insist on her rights American Airlines has been on a campaign to reduce her financial well being along with her mental well being. Ms Anderson has been belittled, disparaged, maligned, harassed, accused and ignored by both officials of American Airlines and members of various federal agencies. Ms. Anderson has written Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) letters to both the FBI and to the FAA since her assault and over the past fourteen years of asking for information regarding both the Pontie assault and those agencies communications with American Airlines both federal agencies have refused to respond. She has been made to fear the airline's 'retaliation' against her by repeatedly forcing her into psychological testing without cause, has been the target of private investigators and company agents who have broken onto her private property and intercepted her young children to question them along with neighbors about her. She has been "decertified without cause" by American Airlines when other employees have not even been properly certified, creating a period of lost income. And also her home mysteriously burned to the ground in October of 2000 in Tarrant County, Texas.
Finally in 2003 she was accused by American Airlines of actions and behavior of which she was innocent, forcing her into an investigation which eventually led to her suspension (her employee number disappeared from employee records in October of 2003 as if she no longer existed) and loss of work time along with income once again. This happened prior to seeing the last psychiatrist American Airlines hired to test her and whose actions caused American Airlines to consider her to be 'disabled' in 2004 and well before she was officially terminated in 2005 for asking for her medical records. When these actions were happening to her, prior testing had shown that she was "without any difficulties to perform her job duties", was capable of handling her position and while she received praise from passengers and colleagues alike, she felt herself in "the sights" of the airline. Those suspicions of "retaliation" by her employer have now been borne out through the large body of evidence and exhibits that will be exposed through the body of this case. Amazingly, the copious record of airline management documentation and discussions about Ms. Anderson through the course of her three decade career runs into the "thousands of pages"! "Ms. Anderson was 'forced off income and out of her job and career in 2003 whereas by October of that year Ms. Anderson's employee number disappeared off the radar screen and when entered into the American Airlines computer system, it read that 'this employee no longer exists'; despite the fact that American Airlines Legal Department later argued to the EEOC that she had not been 'discharged'. It was after Ms. Anderson having been expunged from the employee roster, showing 'suspended' and having lost her viable employee number and after having been disallowed into the employee computer information centers of Jetnet and DECS, that the airline still forced her into another round of redundant 'psychological testing' in March of 2004; disabling and then firing her for requesting her own medical records." "Even representatives to the American Airlines Employees Benefits and Services Department questioned how such a random order of actions taken against Ms. Anderson had manifested as she was 'suspended', then disabled and finally fired. Also, Ms. Anderson never received an LTD - Long Term Disability payments (of an approximate $1,490.00 a month due to her) into which she had paid for the duration of her career after managers of the airline refused to fill-out the necessary paperwork for its filing and causing Ms. Anderson further financial devastation.
This is just part of the history that is the back-drop to this case critical to the understanding of airline corporate handling of its employees
"In another interesting consideration embodied within this case of Greta L. Anderson vs. American Airlines, the rule of 'captain's authority' that guarantees mere civilian air transport pilots (ATP) to U.S. commercial airlines near 'papal infallibility and absolute power' will fall under a particular examination as it can lead to egregious mis-applications for the purposes of cover-up, self- preservation and even acts of retaliation. Such a practice within the airline industry is comparative to law enforcement agents engaging in official oppression, excessive force and/or even threatening actions of (police or, in this case, 'pilot') brutality. No longer can an absolute rule of Maritime Law contribute to unchecked and dangerous actions of 'discrimination' that contributes to enhancing danger within the flight environment. Additionally, airline pilots with known propensities toward violence (child abuse, domestic violence, spousal abuse, assaults and threats of assault) and commercial airline pilots with manifestations of erratic behavior and existent histories of `despondency, suicide threats, homicide threats', and etc. certainly should fall under a particular scrutiny, especially with regards to accusations under `the cloak of captain's authority' that could be misleading and even retaliatory. Additionally, the issue of more stringent psychological evaluation of commercial airline pilots is put forth in the study of developments within this case. Additionally, a need for the further examination of pilots who engage within areas of 'erratic violent behavior', assaults outside the airline workplace, known domestic violence offenses, reported despondency and depression and threats of suicide and homicide will come under consideration within this case. [Refer and investigate: Randy T. Hoffman vs. Melony Hoffman, Kent County Courts, Kent County - Grand Rapids, Michigan: 1996 1997].
"Questions of 'who is in command of your airline flight' should evolve from parts of the history of this case. Overall, Greta L. Anderson vs. American Airlines' will shed new light and an inside look into long maintained little known conditions within the air transport industry
At issue also is that when Ms. Anderson was falsely accused by a captain and crew in August of 2003, and, later by managers to American Airlines who acted upon an immediate and prejudicial presumption and declaration of her assumed guilt; Ms. Greta Anderson contacted her union, the APFA. Ms. Anderson was advised by SFO APFA representative that "Ms. Anderson had suffered harassment and being traumatized at the hands and actions of Captain Randy T. Hoffman (Ada, Michigan / based in ORD).
Ms. LeWinter further advised Ms. Anderson in August of 2003 to file a report of harassment and discrimination with the hired neutral reporting system assigned to American Airlines reporting systems, The Network. Ms. Anderson followed these instructions in 2003. Yet, by 2005 Ms. Anderson was informed by no less that two agents to The Network that American Airlines Human Resources, to which they reported, had instructed The Network to erase and expunge her reports.
Ms. Anderson after having been removed off her trip under `the false pretenses' of falsified captain and crew reports also followed procedure in reporting the events of her last and catastrophic three day trip. Yet, despite properly reporting to the internal reporting channels within American Airlines, later evidence presented at the time of her firing in 2005, showed that the persons to whom she reported did NOT want to take any information regarding the violent actions of a captain or the improper actions of the rest of her crew.
And additional point to understand with regards to the sequence of events of this case and persons involved and knowledgeable of this case and its history, is that, before Ms. Anderson had any legal representation and after having been removed from her last trip, her job and her income; Ms. Anderson wrote directly to the CEO of American Airlines, Gerard Arpey and to The Board of American Airlines, Inc., reporting the travesty of injustice that had descended upon her since August of 2003.
Though none of these persons responded to Ms. Anderson's plea for an investigation, a Mr. David Levine of American Airlines Human Resources responded to Ms. Anderson on behalf of Mr. Gerard Arpey (mentioning him by name) in an email in the summer of 2005. Mr. Levine in a caustic and very negative email again expressed false accusations against Ms. Anderson, yet again, and stayed within the accusatory framework of malicious dis-information.
Thus, the very top of the executive tier were either directly or indirectly advised and presumptively reached by Ms. Greta L. Anderson only to find no remedy in her search for justice and fairness.
Thus is one study of `the pathological corporate culture' of the management labor relations put forward by American Airlines and made evident within this case.
We hope that interested members of the press and the general public, who follow airline safety issues, and employee protection legislation, will attend this trial. What happened to Greta Anderson was a travesty of justice and fair labor practices. The fate of Greta Anderson is important, since she is a symbol and example of employees trying to create safer conditions for everyone to fly in. The tactics used against Greta Anderson can be used against any airline employee who tries to bring dangerous conditions to public attention and these tactics could be used further afield, against employees in other industries who try to blow the whistle on unsafe practices. The U.S., if not global, commercial air transport industry and its unknown and little realized tactics and labor relations need to be 'revolutionized'.
It is also hopeful that crime victim advocates will attend this case and see how much "psychology for hire' is utilized against American employees (within the United States and within the airline industry) while, for example, the airlines maneuvers, manipulates and misuses a cry for the "safety sensitive environment of flight" of which Ms. Anderson ironically, was a consummate champion.
A final pre-trial hearing for the case is scheduled for 3:30 PM on Tuesday June 24th, 2008 in the same chambers.
Also, please refer to KVTV the CBS affiliate in Ft. Worth, Texas, for an interviewed piece by reporter Jerry Strickland and Ms. Anderson on February 22, 2000, that shows cause and motive for American Airlines retaliatory actions against the plaintiff to this case. Contact Angie at KVTV in FW, Texas, and the archivist to this station for a clear copied video of said interview.