Magic Johnson’s “personal flight attendant” filed legal papers in Los Angeles Superior Court this week charging the NBA Hall of Famer with alleged age discrimination and wrongful termination.
The actual defendants named in the lawsuit are her employers Magic Johnson Entertainment and Clay Lacy Aviation.
ABC News reports that after being on the job for about eight years, Lanita Thomas, 45, claims that the former Lakers superstar fired her for being 15 minutes late for a flight but what he really had in mind was replacing her with a “substantially younger” female employee. This is known in the law as a “pretext.” The younger woman had substituted for Thomas while she was out sick.
On the day in question, Thomas says she only was behind schedule because she was stuck at the deli counter trying to buy “two types of specific turkey” for her picky boss’s sandwiches.
Among her many other duties for Johnson included squeezing Red Vine liquorice “to make sure they were soft” and otherwise making sure his private jet was stocked with “highly specific in-flight food and beverage choices.”
Thomas, a former United Airlines employee, earned about $100,000 a year as Johnson’s employee. In the lawsuit, she is also seeking back pay and overtime under the California Labor Code in part because she claims she was never allowed to take any in-flight breaks.
Thomas claims that the situation over losing her job with Magic Johnson has left her “emotionally devastated,” and she has been unable to get another job as a flight attendant.
It is against both federal and state law to discriminate against an employee who is age 40 or over.
Magic Johnson’s representatives have yet to make any public comment about the lawsuit.