The 10 Biggest Delta Air Lines Lawsuits in Company History


Delta Airlines is one of the largest air passenger providers in the United States. Although reputable, the company has been sued dozens of times with billions in claims. Here are the ten biggest lawsuits in the history of the company.

10. Delta Air was penalized for safety-related offenses Penalty amount: $987,550

Delta Air was accused of safety violations in 2012. The Federal Aviation Commission investigated claims of aviation safety violations made by Delta Air. The case did not go to court. Instead, it was handled by the FAA in the agency action. Aviation Safety Net confirms that Delta received two civil penalties involving two aircraft. They allegedly operated a Boeing 737-800 and an Airbus A320 which were out of compliance with regulations of the Federal Aviation Agency. The Boeing craft needed a chip repaired in the nose radome. It was determined by an inspection in February of 2010, and Delta was informed of the problem and the need for repairs. The craft flew on an additional twenty flights before the problem was repaired. The second penalty was for the operation of the Airbus A320 which flew out of compliance for over eight months, with a broken floodlight socket in the cockpit in the first officer’s station. Delta deferred repair and flew the craft out of compliance as reports of defective or malfunctioning equipment in this category must be repaired within ten days of discovery. A routine inspection of the FAA revealed the violation. Delta Air has penalized nearly a million dollars for the two violations.

9. Aviation consumer protection violations alleged against Delta Airlines Penalty amount: $1.35 million

The United States Department of Transportation, Office of the Secretary in Washington DC investigated allegations that Delta Air failed to provide required accommodations for passengers with disabilities. The Transportation Department Consumer Protection Division found numerous instances of failure to comply with established laws related to the protection and provision of accommodations for disabled passengers. A civil agency action held Delta Airlines accountable for the actions of their staff, although Delta argued that its policies state that the airline goes over and above the legal requirements to provide for the care of and accommodation for disabled passengers. Records revealed that this was not the case. Delta was found guilty of the charges and fined a penalty of more than $1.4 million. Its numerous examples of consumer protection violations put passengers in harm’s way, additionally causing some of the delays that resulted in missed connections and flights and many inconveniences. In addition to paying the penalties, Delta Air was hit with a cease and desist order to stop committing violations of consumer protection laws. Delta agreed to the penalty, and also to make changes with the training of its staff on the policies and laws for working with disabled passengers. As we will see later, this is a promise that Delta Air was not able to keep. The airline continued to commit numerous violations of consumer protection laws with yet higher penalties levied. The case was settled on November 10, 2003.

8. Delta Air was penalized for employment-related offenses in 2014. Penalty amount: $1,415,444

Delta Airlines continued its ongoing employment-related violations in 2014. Bell v. Delta Air Lines, Inc. is the name of the civil lawsuit filed in 2014. Workers filed complaints against Delta for failure to pay overtime pay to California employees. The lawsuit was filed in a Northern District of California Federal court in private litigation. After an investigation of the allegations, it was discovered that Delta violated California Labor Laws by failing to pay employees overtime rates. The lack of compliance with the laws resulted in numerous violations and financial harm to the employees affected. Delta Airlines agreed to pay a penalty of $1,415,444 in fines and compensation to cover the back pay for workers who were shortchanged on the wages they earned through overtime. The lawsuit was settled on November 20, 2014.

7. Delta was fined for failure to comply with aviation consumer violations Penalty: $2.3 million

The United States Department of Transportation reports that Delta Air was accused of failing to comply with disability accommodations required by some of its passengers from 2007 through 2008. Reviews of the records show that multiple violations were recorded during the time of the allegations, substantiating them. Deficiencies were found in the training of staff for wheelchair assistance at JFK airport and Atlanta Hartsfield International. The Aviation Enforcement Office found violations that it considers “egregious.” any of the violations resulted in passengers suffering from significant delays, missing flights, suffering financial harm, and more. Delta was fined a penalty of $2.3 million. Additionally, violations of the 2003 consent order for Delta to “cease and desist from further violations” was not observed. The previous order was violated seven years later when the case was investigated in 2011. It appears that Delta did not change its ways, although ordered by civil authorities. The penalty of $2.3 million could have been more stringent because of the number of violations discovered when investigating agencies completed their observations.

6. Schofield v. Delta Air Lines, Inc. Settlement amount: $2.3 million

ESR Check confirms that a worker named Schofield accused Delta Air Lines of committing employment-related offenses including violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. A civil private lawsuit was filed in a federal Northern District Court of California. The lawsuit was filed in 2019, seeking compensation for damages received by the illegal actions of Delta. This was one of many labor and employment violations committed by the company. Delta was accused of using background check disclosures for 44,100 job applicants that contained misleading and extraneous information that could not be interpreted correctly without obtaining the FCRA, a law that controls background checks in the United States. Since Delta obtained the reports without providing “clear and conspicuous disclosure in writing,” they committed violations. Each member of the class action settlement received $52.15. The case settled on July 16, 2019, with Delta agreeing to a penalty of $2.3 million.

5. Workers sue Delta Airlines for back pay Settlement amount: $3.5 million

Delta airlines had paid a settlement of 4.5 million to workers in California, or denied them a meal and rest breaks in 2017. Just three years later, workers reported the airline for employment-related offenses again. They accused Delta of wage and hour violations for not paying them for overtime hours worked. in 2020. They filed a civil lawsuit in a Federal Central District Court of California, seeking compensation for the back pay that Delta owed them, and for remediation of the unfair labor practices that caused them financial harm under the Howard Fan v. Delta Air Lines Inc. The case was settled on May 21, 2020, with Delta Air Lines, Inc, agreeing to pay a settlement of $3.5 million.

4. Delta Airlines sued for wage and hour violation Settlement amount: $4,25 million

Delta Airlines was in the hot seat again for employment-related offenses. In 2017, workers at Delta Airlines in California claimed that Delta airlines failed to allow them to take meal breaks and rest breaks. The accusations triggered a federal investigation of labor and employment offenses. It’s illegal under California law to deny workers meals and rest breaks. Workers filed a civil lawsuit in the Central District Federal Court of California in the Reynaldo Lopez et al. v. Delta Air Lines, Inc. et al. case. They settled the complaints on November 15, 20`17, with Delta Airlines agreeing to pay a settlement amount of 4.25 million. The airline was additionally ordered to provide its workers with breaks for meals and rest as stipulated under California Labor Laws.

3. Delta Airlines sued in ERISA Violation case Penalty amount: $16 million

Law 360 reports that Delta Airlines was accused of employment-related offenses in 2005. Employees filed a lawsuit in the Northern District Court of Georgia in a civil suit. Most allegations of actions of this type immediately get referred to federal investigations units with the Department of Labor. Upon investigation of claims, they found Delta had violated benefit plan administrator rules. The secondary offense was a violation of pension regulations about ERISA. The private litigation sought damages for the victims of the acts committed by Delta’s retirement benefit plan administrator. They resolved the lawsuit with a settlement agreed upon, on September 5, 2005. Delta Airlines conceded to pay a penalty of $16 million that included compensation for victims and fines.

2. Northwest Airlines/Delta sued for Price Fixing Settlement amount: $38 million

The US Department of Justice confirms that Northwest Airlines, a subsidiary of Delta Air, Inc. pleaded guilty to charges of price-fixing for air transportation. Investigations into claims that Northwest participated in covert meetings to fix cargo prices yielded evidence that it engaged in criminal behaviors in the felony category. The Department of Justice, the Antitrust Division, National Criminal Enforcement Section, the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Transportation, the Washington Field Office of the FBI, and the Office of the Inspector General of the US Postal Service conducted joint investigations. The crimes resulted in one felony charge for activities between July 2004 through February 2006. Consumers in the United States and Japan trade routes became victims of the price-fixing scheme for shipments of consumer goods, perishable commodities, heavy equipment, and more. Vendors were charged high prices with no recourse because of the price-fixing scheme. Findings of the investigation were sufficient to pursue felony charges against four executives of participating airlines, with a fifth executive awaiting pending criminal charges. The four execs suspected of involvement were charged, tried, and found guilty of felony price-fixing activity and are serving prison time for their participation. Including the recent charge, as a result of this investigation, a total of 16 airlines have pleaded guilty or have agreed to plead guilty in the Justice Department’s ongoing investigation into price-fixing in the air transportation industry. More than $1.6 billion in criminal fines were imposed on the guilty parties. Four executives received sentences to serve prison time. Charges are pending against a fifth executive. Northwest Airlines pleaded guilty and agreed to pay the criminal fine of $38 million. Northwest Airlines Cargo is no longer in business.

1. Delta Air sued for claims of stolen intellectual property Lawsuit amount: $1 billion

Bloomberg () reports a Delta Air Lines pilot accused the company of stealing intellectual property from him. Captain Craig Alexander developed an app for flight crews to send text messages. He claims that the intellectual property was stolen from him by Delta to use as a model for an app created. The lawsuit filed in 2021 seeks $1 billion in damages for Delta’s alleged theft of trade secrets. The pilot used his own money to develop the QrewLive app. Alexander claims he met with CEO Ed Bastian to share his invention for consideration by Delta to help prevent communication issues in power outages and other situations that impede communications. Bastian referred Alexander to the chief information officer of Delta, Rahul Samant. Delta moved forward with multiple meetings dating back to 2015 until 2018. They shared an interest in purchasing the app, which would include payment to the Captain. Delta abruptly ended discussions and negotiations. In 2018, Delta Airlines produced a carbon copy of the QrewLive app under the new name Flight Family communications. Alexander claims he is offended by Delta Air’s requirement for him to use the app he claims they stole from him. Although some companies can claim rights to intellectual properties developed by employees on company time, Alexander claims he developed the app at his expense on his own time. Delta indicated that it would purchase the app complicates its claim for rights to the app. The Captain further claims that the QrewLive app would have saved Delta over $1 billion in cost savings. This is the biggest lawsuit filed against Delta Air in company history.

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