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Former Delta employees sue airline, claim they were fired for speaking Korean

Former Delta employees sue airline, claim they were fired for speaking Korean
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Four former Delta Air Lines employees filed a lawsuit against the company, saying they were fired for speaking Korean.

Ji-Won Kim, Lilian Park, Jean Yi and Jongjin An worked as desk and gate agents for the airline at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, which has daily Delta flights to South Korea.

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The four Korea-born women claim in the lawsuit that they were “singled out and admonished” for speaking Korean. Three of the four women are U.S. citizens.

Yi told Seattle TV station KIRO 7 that Korean-speaking passengers who weren't fluent in English felt more comfortable speaking with her at the airport.

One of the plaintiffs said a manager told her that airline employees who didn't speak Korean had complained and asked her to “limit speaking Korean.”

The women, who were all fired in May 2017, claim in the lawsuit that other foreign language–speaking employees were not asked to limit their non-English communications.

The company said the four women were terminated for "offering unauthorized upgrades," according to the lawsuit. The women say the upgrades were standard, particularly for oversold flights, and that other agents who engaged in the same practices were not fired.

An attorney for the women said it is also possible that their firings were related to their reporting of sexual harassment — all four claimed that they were sexually harassed by the same male employee, who is still working for the airline.

A Delta spokesperson told KIRO 7 in a statement that the airline “does not tolerate workplace discrimination or harassment of any kind” and that the allegations against the male employee were “found to be without merit.”

"These former employees were unfortunately but appropriately terminated because the company determined they violated ticketing and fare rules,” the spokesperson said. “Delta is confident that these claims will ultimately be determined to be without merit."