(CN) – The 2nd Circuit reinstated the age bias and retaliation claims of a former JetBlue Airways supervisor, who said her manager “treated older women as if they were not there.”
According to Diane Gorzynski, a former customer service manager at the Buffalo International Airport, the airport’s general manager, James Celeste, created a hostile work environment by making sexually lewd comments and favoring younger workers. Gorzynski was 54 when the airline hired her in 2000.
Celeste allegedly asked a female crewmember if she had “gotten enough loving” over the weekend, and talked about sucking on the breasts of a well-endowed passenger. He also humiliated Gorzynski and another female crewmember by announcing over the loudspeaker during a final boarding call that the crewmember was a former pin-up girl, and that Gorzynski had been a table dancer before she joined the airlines, Gorzynski claimed.
She said Celeste evaluated her work unfairly and told her she reminded him of one of his aunts, who was in her eighties and “difficult.” He also showed an obvious bias toward younger workers, both male and female, and allowed them to get away with airline policy violations, such as smoking or showing up late to work, that would lead to discipline for older workers, Gorzynski claimed.
She was fired after giving a list of repairs to a ground support coordinator in anticipation of a visit by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector. The coordinator accused her of berating him in front of other crewmembers, and JetBlue fired Gorzynski due to her “unsatisfactory interpersonal skills.”
But Gorzynski said she was actually fired because of her age and because she’d complained about race, gender and age discrimination at JetBlue.
The district court granted summary judgment to JetBlue on all claims, but the Manhattan-based appeals court allowed the case to move forward.
“Gorzynski has produced evidence that casts significant doubt” on JetBlue’s rationale for firing her, Judge Calabresi wrote, “leaving triable issues as to whether JetBlue retaliated against her for complaining about prohibited discrimination.”