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Safi v. Royal Jordanian Airlines

October 25, 2010

NAFISEH AHMAD SAFI, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ROYAL JORDANIAN AIRLINES, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Harry D. Leinenweber

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

On December 24, 2008, Plaintiff Nafiseh Ahmad Safi filed the current three-count Complaint against defendant Royal Jordanian Airlines alleging (Count 1) a violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, (Count 2) intentional infliction of emotional distress, and (Count 3) a violation of due process rights.

Defendant Royal Jordanian Airlines moves for summary judgment on part of Count 1 and all of Counts 2 and 3. For the reasons stated herein, Defendant's Motion is denied as to Count 1 and granted as to Counts 2 and 3.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Facts

Plaintiff Nafiseh Ahmad Safi (hereinafter, "Safi") was employed by Royal Jordanian Airlines (hereinafter, "RJA") from October 1977 to August 2004. During this time period, Safi held various positions in the sales department in RJA's Amman, Jordan offices. She retired from RJA in 2004 on her 55th birthday.

Safi moved to the United States after her retirement. In 2005, she worked at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago for Swissport ("Swissport"), an airline ground handling services company which performs work for various airlines. While at Swissport, Safi worked on RJA's account but also performed worked for other airlines. Safi resigned from Swissport in late 2005 in order to travel to Jordan for ten days. Shortly after returning to the United States, Safi applied (for the first time) for a job as a check-in agent with RJA at O'Hare Airport. Safi was 56 years old at the time of this application.

Sami Zakha ("Zakha") was the station manager for RJA's O'Hare location when Safi applied. In early 2006, Zakha hired Veronica Padilla ("Padilla") and Jasser Khader ("Khader"), both in their twenties, for the open check-in agent positions and not Safi. In Safi's version of the events, Zakha directly told Safi that despite her work history, he could not hire her because she was too old for the job. In RJA's version of the events, Zakha rejected Safi without mentioning age, and made the decision based on his opinion that Safi was less well qualified for the position than the two applicants he chose. In particular, Zakha claims that he was concerned that Safi interacted poorly with co-workers, had a bad attitude, was confrontational with passengers, and had a short temper.

Next, Safi applied for two positions with RJA sometime around April of 2008. As to the first position, Safi spoke with Zakha regarding a job opening at O'Hare but was rejected without formally interviewing for the position. Safi alleges that Zakha again claimed she was too old for the job. RJA again responds that Zakha did not mention age, but chose not to hire Safi because of character issues such as attitude and temper. As to the second position, Safi applied for a job with RJA's sales office in Chicago. Abed Salamah ("Salamah"), the Regional Sales Manager for RJA, interviewed Safi for the sales position, but he did not select her for the job.

In October of 2008, Safi requested a free ticket with RJA for a round trip flight to Jordan. Safi claims that free tickets such as this are a vested benefit for employees with 10 years of service. RJA rejected this request and informed Safi that this benefit was being suspended until further notice.

B. Procedure

Safi filed an EEOC charge and a Notice of Right to Sue was issued on September 29, 2008. Safi filed her three-count Complaint on December 24, 2008. Safi's Complaint originally included RJA, Zakha, and Salamah as defendants, but Safi voluntarily dismissed Zakha and Salamah from the case on April 22, 2009.

RJA filed the present Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on August 13, 2010. On September 24, 2010, Safi filed a Motion for Leave to Amend her Complaint to add Swissport as a defendant and add Count 4 which alleged intentional infliction of emotional distress by both RJA and Swissport. This Motion to Amend was denied on October 7, 2010. RJA's ...


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