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Flight Attendant Says Eligible for Food Stamps, Fired by Airline

Calling it "a horrible, horrible feeling," Phoenix-based flight attendant Kirsten Arianejad applied and was approved for food stamps, despite already being a full-time employee of Minneapolis-based Compass Airlines and working a full schedule.

The airline responded after Arianejad revealed her status during a local television interview. It fired her.

The Association of Flight Attendants ("AFA"), which represents Arianejad and 50,000 other union members, calls that wrongful termination and a purely retaliatory move by Compass. "Poverty is not a crime and it is despicable that Compass Airlines would fire an employee for speaking the truth," said Patricia Friend, International President of AFA.

AFA spokesperson Bill McGlashen further added that Arianejad's wage was "unsustainable," and her situation of working full time for Compass and still qualifying for food stamps "abhorrent." He said the story going public "hit a nerve" with Compass and brought a retaliatory response.

That doesn't sit well with Friend, who says that, instead of paying fair wages, Compass is shaming employees and making them fear for their jobs. "We call on Compass to immediately reinstate Kirsten Arianejad," Friend said.

Arianejad was representative of Compass flight attendants in that her salary easily qualified her for the food stamp program in Arizona. The maximum level to quality in that state is $1,671 per month.

Says Arianejad: "I just want to be able to feed my family and to be able to actually live a little, not just exist."

Related Resource: "Flight attendant says she was fired after admitting she was on food stamps" September 8, 2010

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