Louann Giambattista, a 33-year veteran American Airlines flight attendant from Long Island, filed the suit in Brooklyn federal court after being accused by her colleagues of hiding her pet rats in her pantyhose and underwear and bringing them on flights, the New York Post reported.
Giambattista has denied the allegations, saying one of her co-workers was mistaken when she saw her "eating a dinner roll out of a cup," which she then hid so she wouldn't look unprofessional in front of passengers, the suit said.
Another one of Giambattista's fellow flight attendants told authorities of the alleged rats in her underwear upon landing in Florida. The accused was then interviewed by a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent for an hour, the lawsuit said.
American Airlines also flagged Giambattista's passport, "making it nearly impossible for [her] to report to work," because she had to go through extra security measures for more than a year, the lawsuit alleges.
"Everybody has pets -- she has her pets at home, not at work," said Giambattista's attorney Stephen Morelli. "She's not a nut. They're making her out to be a nut."
The entire situation left Giambattista with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, including "debilitating anxiety," Giambattista alleges. She is seeking unspecified damages.
American Airlines said it would respond to the claims in court.