Worker Who Says Airline Criticized Aestheticism of His Footwear Loses Round

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A Delta Air Lines flight attendant who alleges he suffered financially because his employer would not immediately accommodate his shoe needs for a foot injury suffered on the job, causing him to miss nearly a year of work, lost a round in court today when a judge dismissed the plaintiff's boss as a defendant in the case.

Armando Garcia of Norwalk maintains in his Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit filed last Jan. 24 that Delta repeatedly rejected his footwear choices for aesthetic reasons. The suit's allegations included disability discrimination and retaliation by Delta.

The suit also alleged his supervisor, Nancy Perong, knew she would cause Garcia emotional distress by forcing him out of work for almost a year by unreasonably rejecting a shoe he proposed. She then suggested in the alternative one that was not helpful to his medical condition, but was aesthetically comparable to the one he recommended, according to his suit.

Judge Lia Martin agreed with defense attorney Stephanie S. Elder that Perong's actions did not amount to “extreme or outrageous conduct,” required elements for intentional infliction of emotional distress. After tentatively ruling that she would allow Garcia's lawyers another change to amend the complaint, she changed her mind, saying she was not convinced that plaintiffs' attorney Molly Durkin's offer of evidence of emails Garcia wrote to Perong were sufficient evidence of his emotional distress claim.

Garcia, who was hired by Delta in June 2007, suffered injuries to his legs, feet and back during a “botched airplane landing” in June 2016, the suit states. He took medical leave from work, but upon his return continued to suffer foot pain despite taking painkillers and cortisone injections, according to the suit.

He says his doctor suggested he wear medical shoes at work and gave him a note requesting that accommodation, but Delta refused his request and he was unable to return to the job.

In June 2017, Delta requested more information regarding his shoe accommodation request and he provided updated medical information and made a shoe proposal, his suit states. Delta rejected the shoe for aesthetic reasons, including that the shoe leather was not smooth enough, according to the plaintiff.

Garcia suggested a second shoe a month later, but it was again rejected for aesthetic reasons by Delta, which recommended different shoes that did not accommodate the plaintiff's medical condition, the suit alleges.

After further interactions between both sides that failed to resolve their differences, Delta in May 2018 accepted his use of the same shoe he proposed in June 2017, according to his court papers.

Garcia resumed his flight attendant duties and has used the shoes without any problems, but “continues to suffer from the financial and emotional hardship of being needlessly forced out of work” for almost a year, the suit states.

Garcia still works for Delta, Elder said after the hearing.

Photo: Getty Images

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