LOS ANGELES (CN) - A former flight attendant on Magic Johnson's private jet claims he fired her for being seven minutes late to a flight trying to meet his demand for "two types of specific turkey in his sandwich."
In her lawsuit in Superior Court, Lanita Thomas describes the retired NBA player as a finicky client with particular demands.
Thomas says she quit her job with United Airlines in 2004 to work exclusively for Johnson, who had hired her contract employer at the time, Clay Lacy Aviation, to staff his Gulfstream jet. Last year, Thomas says she earned $75,000 and a $25,000 bonus with Clay Lacy and Magic Johnson Entertainment.
She claims she worked 10 to 12 hours a day on average, a third of which she spent accommodating Johnson's particular pre-flight requests.
Johnson allegedly required Thomas to stock the plane with newspapers, DVDs and "highly specific in-flight food and beverage choices," such as red vine liquorice.
"Mr. Johnson was very particular that all snacks were fresh, and an example of this was that he directed Ms. Thomas to regularly squeeze his red vines to make sure they were soft and ready to eat," the lawsuit states.
She also had to clean the plane after each flight, though most flights chartered by Clay Lacy were spiffed up by a cleaning crew, according to the lawsuit.
When Thomas injured her wrist in 2010, Johnson was temporarily assigned a "substantially younger" flight attendant, says Thomas, who is over 40. After Thomas returned from medical leave, she says Johnson's treatment of her "changed in a subtle manner." He was "less cordial" and "more standoffish and dismissive of her," she claims.
On Sept. 6, Thomas says Johnson fired her for being seven minutes late to a flight as a pretext for age discrimination. She claims she was running late in an effort to accommodate Johnson's particular food requests.
"It was important for Mr. Johnson to have two types of specific turkey in his sandwich, so Ms. Thomas knew she had to wait at the deli counter despite the long line," the lawsuit states.
Thomas claims her firing based on tardiness was merely a pretext for age discrimination. She says Johnson immediately replaced her with the younger woman who had filled in for her when she was injured.
Thomas claims the firing has been "devastating ... both economically and emotionally," and will prevent her from working as a flight attendant.
"She will be prevented from engaging in an occupation in which she has worked with distinction for nearly twenty years," the lawsuit states.
Thomas is suing former joint employers Magic Johnson Entertainment and Clay Lacy Aviation for age discrimination, wrongful termination and multiple labor code violations.
Among other things, she claims the defendants failed to pay her overtime wages, provide meal and rest breaks, or keep a record of her hours worked.
Her attorney is William Becker of El Segundo, Calif.