Thirteen former United Airline employees filed a complaint against the company this week for firing them last year when they refused to fly on a plane that had a ‘Bye Bye’ message written on it along with a ‘devilish’ face.
According to the complaint filed Tuesday, the words ‘BYE BYE’ were written in oil residue on the plane’s tail.
Along with the words were two faces, one face drawn with a smile and another with, what the complaint states is, a ‘frowning or devilish’ expression.
The employees refused to fly on the July 14 Hong Kong-bound flight despite reassurances from the pilot, mechanics, and security that the Boeing 747-400 plane at San Francisco International Airport was safe to fly, according to The New York Daily News.
The flight attendants are seeking reinstatement along with backpay and compensatory damages, according to the Tribune, but an airline spokeswoman said the company plans to ‘vigorously’ defend its decision.
The spokeswoman, from the Chicago-based United Airlines, told Reuters that the airlines teams investigated the issue and found there was no ‘credible security threat.’
In the complaint, the employees said the airline refused to empty the plane of its more than 300 passengers and perform a security inspection.
The employees, all with 18 or more years of experience, refused to work believing the lives of the passengers and crew were in danger, Reuters reports.
The flight was delayed and soon cancelled. The employees were fired for insubordination, according to the complaint.
The workers said in the complaint that they had been on alert following an incident one week earlier where federal authorities announced an enhanced security screening due to the threat of explosive devices onboard.
The former-employees said they were seeking additional security measure following a possible phone-and-laptop bomb warning a week earlier from the Transportation Security Administration.
The flight attendants hold that their termination was a violation of a federal whistleblower law that prohibits the airline from retaliating for reporting air safety issues, the Tribune reports.
‘These flight attendants refused to let an airline bully them into flying because of what they believed, correctly, was a security threat,’ their attorney, David Marshall, said in an interview, according to Reuters.