An American Airlines flight attendant sued the carrier for sex discrimination Thursday, charging that her health plan compensates male employees for Viagra while refusing to reimburse women for infertility treatments, birth control pills and pap smears.
In a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles federal court, Martina Alexander, a 37-year-old flight attendant from Riverside, asked for injunctive relief and unspecified money damages against the airline.
She also requested permission to sue on behalf of all similarly situated American Airlines employees.
American Airlines offers its employees a variety of health insurance plans, including traditional indemnity coverage, medical provider networks and HMOs. Alexander receives her care from a medical network.
Andrea Rader, an American Airlines spokeswoman in Dallas, called the lawsuit baseless. Fertility treatments, pap smears and birth control pills all are available through the company-approved HMO in Southern California, Rader said.
But Alexander's lawyer, Gloria Allred, said her client should not be forced to join an HMO to receive those benefits.
"She wants to be able to choose her doctor," Allred said.
In April, Alexander filed a complaint against American Airlines with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission seeking permission to sue her employer. Federal law requires that all discrimination complaints against employers go to the EEOC first. The agency granted approval in September.
The lawsuit filed Thursday accuses American Airlines of violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.