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Flight Attendant Loses In Bid To Sue Continental

Posted in Cabin Crew News, Continental AirlinesNo comments

A former flight attendant for Continental Airlines who was fired for inappropriate behavior on a flight in 2002 has lost an attempt to sue the company for age discrimination.

In a ruling released Monday, a state appeals court upheld a lower court ruling dismissing the lawsuit filed by Melissa Mersmann and ordering her to pay $2,500 in attorneys’ fees to Continental.

The lawsuit stemmed from events in early 2002, when Mersmann was fired for her conduct during a Feb. 17 flight from Aruba to Newark.

In court filings, the company claimed Mersmann “as a result of being intoxicated, engaged in such severe misconduct as to warrant termination.”

Specifically, the company alleged, Mersmann was late for the flight, made inappropriate announcements over the plane’s intercom, smelled of alcohol, vomited twice during the flight and was unable to perform her duties.

Mersmann’s blood alcohol level was tested at .061 when she arrived at Newark, higher than the .04 reading that, under an existing collective bargaining agreement, mandates flight attendants undergo evaluation and complete any recommended rehabilitation before resuming work.

Mersmann, who had worked as a flight attendant for Houston-based Continental since 1985, acknowledged she had consumed alcohol during her two-day layover in Aruba but not in the 11 hours preceding the flight, and suggested a prescription medication she was taking could have skewed the test results.

She also argued that the positive test was not grounds for termination by itself, but an arbitration panel found that the test combined with “other serious misconduct” on the flight justified Continental’s decision.

Mersmann sued Continental claiming age discrimination, noting that her employment record included several promotions and commendations, but the suit was dismissed in 2005 and affirmed on appeal in 2006.

She sued again in 2006, claiming discrimination and retaliation after she applied for a flight attendant job at Continental and was rejected, but a judge dismissed the suit in 2007 and ordered her to pay attorneys’ fees.

Herbert Tan, an attorney representing Mersmann, did not return a phone message Monday, and attorneys representing Continental could not immediately be reached.

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