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Magic Johnson sued for firing personal flight attendant

Oct 25, 2012, 5:48 PM EDT

Magic Johnson Getty Images

Here is my first takeaway from this story: I need a personal flight attendant. I suppose that means I need a personal plane, which means I need to find a way to make boatloads more money. But I need one.

Magic Johnson had one, but now she is suing him for how and why she was fired last month. Like taking seven minutes too long in fetching turkey from a local deli.

That is what the woman, Latina Thomas, is saying in a lawsuit filed against the NBA Hall of Famer and current Dodger owner and ESPN NBA studio analyst. From the ABC News report (hat tip The Big Lead):

Thomas, 45, is suing Magic Johnson Entertainment and Clay Lacy Aviation, her joint employers, in LA County Superior Court for age discrimination, wrongful termination and multiple labor code violations. Among other things, she claims the defendants failed to provide meal and rest breaks, pay her overtime, or keep accurate records of the hours she worked. She is seeking “compensatory damages” for the wages she was allegedly denied since she began working for him in 2004….

On Sept. 6, after trying to waiting at a deli counter trying to get “two types of specific turkey” for Johnson’s sandwich, she arrived at the plane seven minutes late. Two weeks later, Thomas was fired for being “15 minutes late” for the September 6 flight–a pretext, she alleges, for age discrimination, noting that she was immediately replaced with the (younger) woman who had filled in for her when she was on medical leave.

I’m not going to begin to comment on the veracity of the lawsuit. What I got out of the full article was the Magic wants his plane stocked with Red Vines and they have to be fresh and soft (Thomas claims she had to squeeze them to make sure).

I hate hard Red Vines. See, this is why I need a personal flight attendant.

  1. badintent - Oct 25, 2012 at 6:04 PM

    Who was squeezing who ? And what part. ? Who’s vine ?

    • manchestermiracle - Oct 25, 2012 at 8:38 PM

      Oh, yes, what horrid working conditions! Having to squeeze some candy to see if it’s fresh! Oh, dear, what a dilemma! She should have exercised her right to not be abused in such a detestable manner and quit immediately. There oughta be a law!

  2. stickesabado - Oct 25, 2012 at 6:09 PM

    “On Sept. 6, after trying to waiting at a deli counter trying to get “two types of specific turkey” for Johnson’s sandwich, she arrived at the plane seven minutes late.”

    yes I know, Kurt probably does this on purpose (like many of you say) to get us to comment, but come on Kurt, proofread bro, take pride in your articles…

    • ron05342 - Oct 25, 2012 at 6:42 PM

      I am just as tough on these blog writers for proofreading, but I am going to give Kurt the benefit of the doubt here.

      The questionable language is in quotes, so it probably appeared in the lawsuit in that manner.

      • ron05342 - Oct 25, 2012 at 6:43 PM

        NM

        Just saw the “waiting” word.

        Maybe he does do it on purpose.

    • kinggw - Oct 25, 2012 at 7:35 PM

      Can’t put that on Kurt. I guess you missed the brown letters where it says From the ABC News report, clearly he was quoting from another story.

      If your going to complain about proofreading, you first might want to improve your reading comprehension.

      • manchestermiracle - Oct 25, 2012 at 8:13 PM

        A simple insertion of (sic) lets your readers know you are quoting verbatim. Even easier is simply correcting the obvious error, i.e.:

        “On Sept. 6, after…waiting at a deli counter trying to get “two types of specific turkey” for Johnson’s sandwich, she arrived at the plane seven minutes late.”

        That took all of about three seconds.

  3. contrarianjon - Oct 25, 2012 at 8:14 PM

    Are we talkin about licorice?!

  4. manchestermiracle - Oct 25, 2012 at 8:34 PM

    Notice how the “labor violations” complaint doesn’t arise until after termination? In right-to-work states one can be discharged for any (or no) reason at all. One may also quit a job for any (or no) reason at all.

    Hourly workers are required to maintain their own work records, whether via an employer-provided time clock or in a log. The first time her paycheck didn’t jive with her own records she should have raised the issue. If she wasn’t keeping track how does she know she was shorted? Eight years of being cheated might make Johnson (and/or the companies involved) look like a slave-driver, but it makes her look stupid.

    You may be discharged by an employer for not performing your job to expected standards. Most employers would give you some slack for being late for a flight, so there are probably other issues/events here that weren’t disclosed. The burden of proving Johnson fired Thomas because of her age is on Thomas.

    In addition federal law covers employers with 20 or more employees and does not cover a contractual or freelance relationship. Thomas’ title as Johnson’s “personal flight attendant” sounds very much like a personal contract and not an employer/employee relationship. If she was indeed working for Johnson, then why is she suing Johnson’s company and the company Johnson (or his company) has contracted with to provide air flights? If she is working for one or both of those companies then Johnson could only fire her from his employment, not from Clay Lacy Aviation.

    Much more here than has been reported on this site. The devil is in the details.

    • mogogo1 - Oct 26, 2012 at 12:05 AM

      Honestly, I doubt many people who have their own jets would put up with a crew member delaying their departure. That’s the joy of having your own plane, so you can leave whenever you decide to.

      And you hit the nail on the head about the devil being in the details. If she was sent off at the last minute to pick up a sandwich, would she really have been “late” for departure? I’d say no, because they’d have known it was an unplanned errand without a definite completion time. That makes it sound like it was a pre-assigned duty to pick up the sandwich and still arrive on time. And the 15 minutes late a couple weeks later apparently couldn’t be blamed on Magic or she would have done so in her story. Sounds like an employee who had fallen into the habit of showing up late. Not a good strategy with important people who don’t like to be kept waiting.

  5. illegalblues - Oct 26, 2012 at 12:39 AM

    whoa….there’s more than one kind of turkey?

  6. adeedothatswho - Oct 26, 2012 at 12:53 AM

    Lenny Dykstra is nodding in agreement from jail.

  7. 1977rich - Oct 26, 2012 at 9:46 AM

    Big pimping…….

  8. sellahh - Oct 26, 2012 at 3:04 PM

    If I were Magic, I’d sue her for offending my public image and make her bankrupt.

  9. jimeejohnson - Oct 30, 2012 at 12:43 PM

    “Nice” (say like South Park Men on Ike has sex with teacher episode)!

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