Thirteen United Flight Attendants File AIR21 Retaliation Complaint

Tail-Cone-Photo-711x1024 Thirteen veteran Flight Attendants, represented by Katz, Marshall & Banks, filed a 26-page whistleblower complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the Department of Labor (DOL) on January 6, 2015, alleging that United Airlines unlawfully fired them in retaliation for refusing to fly on a Boeing 747-400 passenger aircraft after learning of a credible and specific threat to the safety of the aircraft, its passengers and crew.

On July 14, 2014, the Flight Attendants became aware that someone had written threatening words and drawn menacing images in an oil slick from the auxiliary engine in the aircraft's tail cone. See a picture of the image to the left.  The Flight Attendants requested that the airline conduct a thorough inspection of the aircraft to ensure that no explosive devices had been planted on the plane.  When the airline refused, the Flight Attendants refused to fly on the aircraft on the basis that doing so might endanger the lives of all of the crew and passengers on board.  United accused the Flight Attendants of “insubordination” and fired them. 

The Flight Attendants allege that their termination represents a violation of the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR21), a law which protects whistleblowers in the airline industry from retaliation for reporting air safety issues.

Katz, Marshall & Banks partner David J. Marshall stated that “our clients did exactly what the flying public would expect from a group of highly experienced airline professionals.” According to Mr. Marshall, “our clients are entitled to legal protection for doing what was right. United needs to be told in no uncertain terms that ordering conscientious employees, who are the eyes and ears of the public in these situations, to ignore federal law because it is more profitable for the Airline to maintain scheduled flights will not be tolerated.”

For more information on the United 13, see the additional press and resources below:


Thirteen Flight Attendants v. United Airlines, Inc., OSHA Charge (January 6, 2015)

Thirteen Flight Attendants Fired for Refusing to Fly on International Flight after Discovering Threatening Words and Images Drawn on Aircraft File Whistleblower Complaint against United Airlines, BusinessWire (January 7, 2015)


Fired United flight attendants sue over "BYE BYE" graffiti on plane, CBS This Morning (January 8, 2015) [VIDEO]

United Airlines employees refuse to fly because of message written on plane, AOL (January 8, 2015) [VIDEO]

Fired Flight Attendants Fight Back Against United Airlines, NBC News (January 8, 2015) [VIDEO]

Flight Attendants Fight Firing Over Safety Concern, Huffington Post Live (January 8, 2015) [VIDEO]

Flight Attendants Fired For Insubordination File Complaint Against United Airlines, Ask For Job Back, KNTV-NBC Bay Area (January 7, 2015) [VIDEO]

Attendants claim they were unfairly fired for refusing to fly after security scare, Atlanta Journal-Constitution (January 8, 2015) [VIDEO]

United Airlines plane’s 'disturbing’ image led to 13 firings, San Francisco Chronicle (January 7, 2015) [AUDIO]

Fired United Flight Attendants Have 3 Paths to Get Jobs Back, The Street (February 10, 2015)

United's 13 fired flight attendants get more support from their union, Chicago Business Journal (January 12, 2015)

United Captain Says ‘Safe to Fly’ but Flight Attendants Say No, The Street (January 12, 2015)

Flight Attendants Want Their Jobs Back After Refusing to Fly on a Plane ‘Decorated’ with a Creepy Message, IJ Review (January 11, 2015)

Fired Flight Attendants Sue United Airlines Over Safety Threat, Skift (January 11, 2015)

Union calls for reinstatement of fired United flight attendants, Chicago Tribune (January 9, 2015)

Ex-Flight Attendants Blow Whistle On United Over Firings, Law360 (January 9, 2015)

Lawsuit: Flight Attendants Refuse to Fly This Plane Out of SFO, Get Fired, Patch.com (January 9, 2015)

AFA Demands Reinstatement for Flight Attendants Who Raised Security Concerns, Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (January 9, 2015)

Flight attendants complained about 'menacing' images on aircraft, CNN (January 9, 2015)

13 flight attendants fired after refusing to fly on plane with 'Bye Bye' on tail, AOL Travel (January 9, 2015)

Paranoia or Flight Risk? United Fires 13 Flight Attendants over “BYE-BYE” Images, Triple Pundit (January 8, 2015)

United Airlines Flight Attendants File Complaint For Being Fired After Not Flying Over Security, FAA Daily (January 8, 2015)

United Fired 13 Flight Attendants That Refused To Fly Airplane With Graffiti, Loyalty Lobby (January 8, 2015)

13 United flight attendants want their jobs back after refusing to fly on a plane defaced with a creepy message, Washington Post (January 8, 2015)

Flight Attendants Fired For Refusing to Fly on Creepy "Bye Bye" Plane, Gawker (January 8, 2015)

Flight attendants who refused to fly after threat want jobs back, UPI (January 8, 2015)

Fired Flight Attendants File Complaint Against United, Travel Pulse (January 8, 2015)

United Airlines Crew Fired For Refusing To Fly On Aircraft With Threat Scrawled On It, SFist (January 8, 2015)

Fired United Attendants Fight Back Over 'Menacing' Graffiti Episode, North Country Public Radio (January 8, 2015)

Flight attendants say United unfairly fired them for refusing to fly, Mashable (January 8, 2015)

13 United Airlines Flight Attendants Fighting For Reinstatement After Being Fired For Refusing To Fly, Opposing Views (January 8, 2015)

Fired United Attendants Fight Back Over 'Menacing' Graffiti Episode, NPR (January 8, 2015)

Flight Attendants Fired After Refusing to Fly Plane with Mysterious Markings, Flying Magazine (January 8, 2015)

13 United Airlines flight attendants fired after spotting ‘devilish’ faces on plane file complaint, National Monitor (January 8, 2015)

United Airlines attendants claim fired over their security concerns, Business Insurance (January 8, 2015)

Flight Attendants Fight Dismissal After Seeing Scary Drawing On Plane And Refusing To Fly, TIME (January 8, 2015)

Ex-United Flight Attendants Who Discovered Spooky Message On Jet At SFO Sue Over Firings, KPIX-CBS Bay Area (January 8, 2015)

United Airlines crew sue bosses after being FIRED for refusing to fly on 747 that had 'Bye Bye' and a 'devilish face' etched on tail, Daily Mail (January 8, 2015)

United Airlines Flight Attendants File Complaint For Being Fired After Not Flying Over Security Concerns, International Business Times (January 8, 2015)

Flight attendants fired after discovering odd drawing on plane, refusing to fly, The Week (January 8, 2015)

13 United Airlines flight attendants file federal complaint against company over firings, FOX News (January 8, 2015)

United Airlines attendants claim fired over their security concerns, Reuters (January 8, 2015)

‘Bye, bye’: The flight you wouldn’t want to be on, News.com (January 8, 2015)

Attendants Say They Were Unfairly Fired for Refusing to Fly, ABC News (January 7, 2015)

Scrawl found on United jet, attendants fired when they refuse to fly, Los Angeles Times (January 7, 2015)

13 United Airlines employees fired for refusing to fly on plane with potentially threatening message written on tail, New York Daily News (January 7, 2015)

United F/As Claim Fired Over Security Concerns, Airwise (January 7, 2015)

United Flight Attendants Refused To Fly Due To Safety Concerns, Were Fired, Consumerist (January 7, 2015)

United Flight Attendants File Whistleblower Complaint, Wall Street Journal (January 7, 2015)

Why 13 United Airlines flight attendants are claiming wrongful termination over security threat, Chicago Business Journal (January 7, 2015)

United flight attendants say they were fired over security, safety concerns, Chicago Tribune (January 7, 2015)

Airline workers: We were fired for voicing security fears, Associated Press (January 7, 2015)

United Attendants Say 13 Fired for Balking at ‘Menacing’ Images, Bloomberg (January 7, 2015)

Fired United Airlines flight attendants say they were spooked by this message, MarketWatch (January 7, 2015)

Cabin crew fired after oil slick scare, Air Traffic Management (January 7, 2015)

United workers fight firing over security concern, USA Today (January 7, 2015)