Fired Delta Employees Say They Were 'Singled Out' For Speaking Korean

They say in a lawsuit against Delta that they worked on flights to and from Korea, with many passengers who spoke Korean.
A passenger checks in at a Delta Airlines gate in Salt Lake City, Utah.
A passenger checks in at a Delta Airlines gate in Salt Lake City, Utah.
George Frey / Reuters

Four former Delta employees say in a lawsuit against the airline that they were “singled out and admonished” for speaking Korean to passengers headed to and from Korea and were fired for reporting sexual harassment.

Jongjin An, Ji-Won Kim, Lilian Park and Jean Yi allege race and national origin discrimination, and retaliation in a lawsuit filed last month in Washington state’s King County Superior Court.

The women, all fluent in Korean, worked in customer service as gate agents at Seattle’s Sea-Tac Airport for flights to and from Korea until they were fired in May 2017, according to the lawsuit. Many passengers on the flights they were assisting spoke Korean, the suit says.

An told KIRO 7 that her Delta manager told her to “limit speaking Korean” because non-Korean-speaking airline agents felt uncomfortable. However, the women say other employees who spoke foreign languages were never given a similar warning.

Delta said the women were fired because “they violated ticketing and fare rules.” The women acknowledge they gave passengers free upgrades on oversold flights, which they say is a common practice.

The lawsuit says the women were terminated in retaliation for reporting they had been sexually harassed by the same employee. The women told KIRO 7 that they reported the employee multiple times, but Delta did not address the issue.

Delta said in a statement that it “does not tolerate workplace discrimination or harassment of any kind.”

“We take allegations of workplace harassment and discrimination very seriously and our investigations into allegations made by these former employees were found to be without merit,” the airline said.

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