A Black former employee is suing an aviation company, alleging he was fired on a false sexual harassment allegation used as a pretext to cover up the firm’s racial motives.
Walter Littles’ Los Angeles Superior Court suit against OSM Aviation Inc. alleges race-based discrimination, retaliation, wrongful termination, failure to prevent discrimination, hostile work environment, harassment and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Littles seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages in the suit filed Thursday.
An OSM Aviation representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
The company “had a pattern of behavior of terminating African-American employees,” the suit alleges.
OSM Aviation has offices around the world, including one in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. The suit says the Los Angeles Superior Court has jurisdiction because Littles worked in Los Angeles County and the company does business in California.
Littles was hired by the company in February 2014 and worked for four years there without any problems, the suit states. He had a mutual friendship with Charlene Nava, a co-worker and co-defendant in the suit, and at times went to dinner with her, according to the suit.
OSM Aviation promoted Littles to the job of ground instructor and passed over Nava for the same position, the suit states, prompting Nava to allegedly ask other employees, “Why did Littles get that promotion? I’ve been here longer than he has.”
Nava was having a relationship with a married pilot and it was common knowledge that she was dealing with matters related to that relationship at the time, the suit states.
Littles angered Nava when he told others she had been late at times to class, the suit states. Littles also heard Nava say during an outing with other employees that she did not date Asian men because of their small private parts, according to the suit.
Nava later reported to OSM Aviation management that during this outing, Littles used a profanity when saying he had had sex with Asian women, the suit states.
“No one else at the table corroborated this version of Nava’s story,” the suit states.
OSM Aviation fired Littles without investigating the allegation or talking to others present during the outing, the suit alleges.
Littles offered to explain the context around the conversation and supply names of others who would corroborate that he did not use profanity, but OSM terminated him anyway, the suit states.
Littles has suffered damage to his reputation and credibility because of his firing and the allegation against him, the suit states.
In subsequent weeks, six Black employees were fired, including two who were present at the time Nava alleges the plaintiff used profanity, the suit states. One of the two lost his job after Nava made an allegation against him and the second was fired because she had warned a co-worker to limit her alcohol drinking at a bar, the suit alleges.
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