A former Delta Air Lines flight attendant has filed a discrimination lawsuit against the company for terminating her employment after she posted an image of former President Donald Trump wearing a Ku Klux Hood on her personal Facebook page. According to the suit, the plaintiff, Leondra Taylor, who is Black, confessed to posting the cartoon image on her page during one of Trump’s presidential debates against then-former Vice President Joe Biden.
The photo, which was originally drawn by editorial cartoonist Terry Mosher (aka Aislin) in 2020, pictured Trump wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood as he stands at a podium across from Biden. A debate moderator is also depicted in the photo with a quote bubble that says, “Thank You, Mr. President, for wearing your mask.” The controversial image was published in the Montreal Gazette on Oct 1, 2020, just days after the presidential debate moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump to condemn White supremacist groups, to which the former president infamously responded, “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.
The lawsuit notes that Delta “came across some political posts that it deemed to be in violation of its social media policy” on Taylor’s page after an employee complained about the picture. According to the lawsuit, in January 2021, a group of Delta employees approached Taylor about the photo stating that it was “disrespectful” and “discriminatory.” Months later, the company terminated her employment because they thought her political posts were “racially motivated,” the suit noted, per CNN.
Taylor believes her swift termination was a form of racial discrimination. In the suit, she argues that while the image was a political statement, she did not share the post to be “hateful” or “discriminatory.” She contends that the cartoon image of Trump “simultaneously made a statement about Trump’s denial of the need for Covid protective measures and that racial discrimination against African Americans was a systemic issue starting at the top, with the then president,” The Washington Post reported. She also argued that non-Black employees with the company were not subject to harsh termination for posting similar political content on social media. Taylor filed the lawsuit on Monday in federal district court in Atlanta and is seeking punitive damages for lost wages and emotional distress.
In a statement to CNN, a representative from Delta responded to the accusations brought forth in Taylor’s lawsuit. “When Delta employees intermix Delta’s brand with conduct or content that does not reflect our values of professionalism, inclusion, and respect, that conduct can result in discipline or termination,” the statement read, adding, “while personnel issues are considered private between Delta and its employees, the circumstances described by our former employee are not an accurate or complete explanation of the company’s termination decision.”