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PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Delta Uses The RLA To Avoid Accountability

Instead of Solving the Problem


Captain Ratfield Will Get Her Day in Court! 

Delta Air Lines utilizes the Railway Labor Act (RLA) to get away with illegal actions. The airline, under the management of CEO and Board of Directors, Ed Bastian, has a history of retaliation and sexual harassment. They also have a history of filing motions to remove these cases from the courtroom and pull them into the grievance process, of which they own both the arbitrator and the process. 

Delta files motions to dismiss these cases based upon preemption. Meaning they tell the court that the airline has a contract and these simple disputes belong in the grievance process. There are many reasons to file a motion to dismiss, but preemption appears to be Delta's favorite tactic when Delta knows they cannot win in the courtroom. Sadly, this "airplane court" is similar to a kangaroo court. This is where Delta can always win. 

While Delta got a little relief on the discrimination charge, the judge deeming it a close call, Delta lost on both harassment and retaliation against Captain Ratfield. Below is a paragraph from the order.

On 8/11/2023 Rules: 

Katherine Menendez
United States District Judge

Rules Against Delta: 

"Delta argues that Ms. Ratfield’s claims under both Title VII and the MHRA are preempted by the FAA, the Court disagrees that her federal claims are preempted by this statute. As detailed above, FAA preemption stems from the Supremacy Clause and not from a statutory requirement. Delta conceded at the hearing that it could not find any case in which a court held that the FAA preempted Title VII claims, let alone claims under any other federal statute. Yet Delta maintained that the rationale for FAA preemption applies equally to state and federal claims. This cannot be so."

Read the order to included details of the case here.

Delta Does It AGAIN 

"Jane Doe" was a Delta Flight Attendant repeatedly raped by her husband, a pilot for Delta. She reported this to Delta and despite Ed Bastian, CEO and Chairman of the Board's 2020 memo to the employees: 

"As your leader, I take ownership of that performance and am committed to correcting our course as we become a more just, equal and anti-racist company."

Ed did not follow through, and has not taken any ownership to solve the problem. Nor did he protect this women. Instead, after Josephine reported the rapes by a Delta pilot, he was subsequently promoted to Captain and she was removed from duty and sent to a mental health evaluation. A tactic I know far too well. 


A different state, a different court, and a different judge denied another of Delta's motions to dismiss on the same day. 

On 8/11/2023

United States District Judge


During an Aural Argument 

Delta's Motion to Dismiss was: Denied

When You See The Rats
The Problem is Out of Control

The problem with these legal actions against Delta is that they do not cost Delta anything. When someone takes action against the airline, Delta's insurance pays. Nobody is held accountable. This was the reason Delta had engaged in a war of attrition against me. Delta knew that attorney fees for a complainant under the AIR21 statute are "reasonable" fees, not all the fees, but typically 90%. Delta has unlimited funds due to their defense being financed by insurance. They knew there would be a point that even when I won, I would lose. They just underestimated me. They have also underestimated Josephine and Andrea. 

Typically Delta buys the silence of the employees when they lose. They tried to buy my silence when they offered the settlement, I refused. There are more of these cases ongoing than the public knows. And Delta is not the only airline doing this. But, I know of many cases at Delta. 

Where is the accountability of Ed Bastian the CEO and Chairman of the Board? He is aware of the retaliation and he approves this litigation. The strength of an airline is only as good as the leader. Leadership and ethics are tied directly to safety.  

I cannot believe that the case of the drunk Delta Passenger molesting a mother and her daughter on a Delta flight is not a result of Delta's culture, and lack of leadership. 

If leadership does not protect their employees, 
what makes you think the employees 
will protect the passengers?

Delta will most likely battle this out in court because insurance covers their legal defense, and there is no accountability at the leadership level. If I were Delta, I would simply apologize and pay them without forcing them to go to court, and make the necessary changes. 

People Make a Difference
Do Not Fear Speaking Out! 
Your Voice Will Be Heard!

If you have been harmed, 
or are being retaliated against 
You Need to Join me at 

(Get your tickets here)

Washington DC 
September 7-8th  

This conference is a two-day event that focuses on spreading awareness and networking within the safe workspace & whistleblowing community. There will be variety of high-profile attorneys, social workers, and congressional guest speakers who are spearheading the movement, as well as whistleblowers.  I will be the keynote speaker. If you need someone to talk to about your event, this is the place to be.  If your health is suffering from your event, you won't want to miss my talk. 


Never Fear Speaking Out
Your voice will be heard
Dr. Karlene Petitt
A350, B777, A330, B747-400, B747-200, B767, B757, B737, B727


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