An American Airlines flight attendant is suing the airline because her colleagues claimed that she had smuggled her pet rats onto an international flight by hiding them in her underwear.
Louann Giambattista, 55, says that she was blacklisted by customs for more than a year after the allegations and is now seeking damages for 'debilitating anxiety' and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The Daily Mail reports that a pilot saw a 'bulge' in Ms Giambattista's pocket during a flight in February 2012, and believed it to be a 'live pet'.
Another colleague reports that, on a flight to Miami on the same day, she saw Ms Giambattista feeding a pet rat. However, Ms Giambattista claims that the bread roll in a paper cup was not for feeding a rat but for herself - and claims she used the cup to avoid looking unprofessional in front of passengers.
The NY Post reports that Ms Giambattista was reported to customs officials upon landing in Florida and was questioned and searched by a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent - but no rat was found.
Her lawyer, Stephen Morelli, said: "Everybody has pets - she has her pets at home, not at work. She's not a nut. They're making her out to be a nut."
Ms Giambattista, who has worked in the industry for 33 years, says that was no reason why she was targeted. She says: "There was no reason for it. People say, 'There must have been a reason,' but there is none."
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