A former employee of Magic Johnson says the basketball legend fired her for being seven minutes late to work — a delay she blames on his request for a turkey sandwich.
Lanita Thomas filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court this week saying her dismissal over tardiness was actually a “pretext” for ageism. She is 45 years old.
Thomas spent about eight years working as a flight attendant on Johnson’s private jet, the lawsuit claims.
Her dismissal in September has been "devastating ... both economically and emotionally,” the lawsuit states.
Thomas also portrays Johnson as a finicky employer with peculiar demands.
On the day she was fired for allegedly being seven minutes late, Thomas says she was standing in line at a deli to ensure the retired NBA player and business mogul had “two types of specific turkey in his sandwich.”
The specificity with which Johnson regarded his food extended to licorice.
"Mr. Johnson was very particular that all snacks were fresh, and an example of this was that he directed Ms. Thomas to regularly squeeze his Red Vines to make sure they were soft and ready to eat," the lawsuit states.
Thomas said she left United Airlines in 2004 to work for Johnson. She earned $75,000 a year with a $25,000 bonus, employment documents state.
In 2010, Thomas hurt her wrist and was out on medical leave. When she returned to work, she found that her substitute was significantly younger and Johnson’s attitude was “less cordial.”
After Thomas was fired, the younger flight attendant took over her position, the lawsuit states.
Thomas is suing Magic Johnson Entertainment and Clay Lacy Aviation for age discrimination, wrongful termination and other labor violations.
Johnson did not immediately respond to the Daily News for comment.
Thomas’ attorney says her dismissal will also make it harder to continue her career.
"She will be prevented from engaging in an occupation in which she has worked with distinction for nearly twenty years,” the lawsuit said.
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