A former United Airlines flight attendant is suing Marriott for snitching on him to his employer, leading to him being fired. I can’t decide whether he has a good case or not, though there are some important details that are unknown.
A United flight attendant’s problematic quarantine
Jonathan Ray was a United Airlines flight attendant for 20+ years. He’s also a Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite lifetime member, apparently from all of his travel for United (which I’m confused by, because I was under the impression that airline crews generally don’t earn elite nights for hotel stays, but I could be wrong, and that’s besides the point anyway).
In April 2020, Ray tested positive for coronavirus after working several international trips. After landing at Newark Airport from an international trip, he was informed by the airline that he had tested positive.
At that point Ray checked into the Marriott Courtyard Wilmington Downtown to quarantine. According to the lawsuit (you can read the whole thing here), which was filed on Monday:
Even though there was no business reason or other justification for doing so, Marriott repeatedly reached out and communicated with United, by way of email and otherwise, to inform United about Mr. Ray and to interfere with Mr. Ray’s employment and continued employment with United.
According to the lawsuit, hotel employees contacted United in writing and:
- Claimed that Ray “did not take quarantining instructions seriously,” that he had been “sitting in the lobby without even a mask,” that he had “thrown” items, and that he created safety issues for other guests by blocking emergency exits near his room
- Claimed that Ray had been “sitting in the lobby without even a mask,” and that he and the gentleman staying with him hadn’t been adhering to Marriott’s policies, even though there were none formally in place at the time
- Claimed that Ray and the other gentleman weren’t taking the hotel’s policies and procedures seriously, and that he was putting “the safety and security of all guests and associates” at risk
- Claimed that Ray had told the hotel he wasn’t sick with coronavirus
- Claimed that Marriott told Ray and the other gentleman not to leave their hotel, even though staff had never told them such a thing
Because of these allegations, United suspended Ray without pay, and then sent him a termination letter shortly thereafter.
Wow, what a case…
Obviously I’m no lawyer, so I’m just sharing my general (non-legal) take. It’s hard to know what exactly to make of this:
- It’s not entirely clear to me if Ray booked his own hotel and just informed the staff that he worked for United, or if United booked the hotel for him to quarantine in; if the latter is the case, I suppose United would have more of a right to know what’s going on, though it’s definitely a blurry line
- The complete disagreement over basic details makes it hard to have an informed opinion — the hotel claims he was sitting in the lobby without a mask, throwing things, and blocking the emergency exit, while he claims none of that is true
- This was early on in the pandemic, and I totally believe there were a lack of policies in place; after all, this was at a time when people weren’t wearing masks, and when hotels also weren’t even requiring them yet
- If Ray was in fact acting the way the hotel claims, then I feel like the priority should have been reporting him to local health authorities, rather than his employer
- If the hotel was literally making up lies about Ray that got him fired then of course he is in the right, while if what they say is true, then the case definitely isn’t as strong; I wonder if the hotel still has any video footage from his stay, or if it doesn’t go back that far
There are a lot of unanswered questions here, though this sure is a strange case.
A United Airlines flight attendant contracted coronavirus after working an international trip. He ended up quarantining in a hotel, and the hotel claims he was acting out of line. The hotel decided to report him to his employer, leading to him ultimately being fired.
I’m not sure what exactly to make of this — if United set up this hotel as a quarantine facility for him then it seems like it wouldn’t be totally out of line for the hotel to report back to the company if he’s acting inappropriately (which he denied), especially since they weren’t disclosing any private medical information. However, if he set up this quarantine on his own, then it seems totally out of line for the hotel to contact his employer.
What do you make of this lawsuit?
(Tip of the hat to LoyaltyLobby)