Oprah Winfrey has another lawsuit on her hands.
According to court documents obtained by Access Hollywood, Corrine Gehrls — a former flight attendant on the talk show host’s private jet — says she was fired after being accused of having sex with chief pilot Terry Pansing in June. Gehrls has filed a federal lawsuit against Oprah’s production company denying the allegations.
In the suit, Gehrls claims that fellow flight attendant Myron Gooch and Kirby Bumpus — who is the daughter of Oprah’s best friend Gayle King and is the talk show host’s goddaughter — made false claims and defamatory accusations, which lead to her dismissal.
According to Gehrls, problems arose when Gooch became dissatisfied with the hours he was required to work, which were set by pilot Pansing.
“For an extended period of time, not less than several months, dissension arose and persisted among the Jet’s flight crew by virtue of Gooch’s resistance to the flight schedule set by Mr. Pansing,” the suit claimed. “When work schedules and assignments were not to Gooch’s liking, he either would refuse to adhere to them or insist to Mr. Pansing or Ms. Gehrls that Ms. Gehrls switch assignments with him or otherwise take his assignment.”
The suit goes on to claim that Harpo and Winfrey ignored Gooch’s work conduct.
“Winfrey and Harpo were made aware of the ongoing problems created by Gooch’s insubordinate attitude and demands,” the suit continued. “Winfrey ignored Gooch’s misconduct which would not have been tolerated of any other Jet employee.”
The suit claims Gooch devised a plan to get Gehrls and Pansing fired that involved Bumpus.
“Prior to July 5, 2009 Gooch approached Bumpus and prevailed upon her to join him in making of a false and defamatory report” the claim continued. “On about July 3, 2009 Gooch and Bumpus falsely told Winfrey and Harpo that on June 14, 2009 the passengers (of) which included Winfrey and Bumpus, Pansing and Gehrls had been observed having inappropriate intimate conduct outside the cockpit of the plane. At no time during that flight or at any other time had such conduct occurred. Indeed after the June 14 flight, Harpo rewarded Gehrls for her historic exemplary work with a paid two week Mediterranean cruise.”
Gehrls claims that the alleged sexual misconduct would have been impossible due to work being done on the plane at the time of the alleged incident.
“During that time, the new flight crew was replacing the prior flight crew. Because the plane was grounded, the curtain between the galley and the cockpit was open, thereby exposing any ‘inappropriate’ conduct to the view not only of the cabin but of the cockpit as well. It further would have been openly exposed to the oncoming crew. No one would engage in such conduct in plain view of one’s employer, fellow employees, and flight passengers. Nor could such conduct have been competently reported during the actual flight, because Bumpus, Winfrey and the other passengers of the June 14 crew (with the exception of the security officer) slept throughout the flight following their ingestion of sleeping pills,” the suit went on to claim.
Gehrls and Pansing were fired shortly after the sexual allegations were made against them, and not reinstated after they had both successfully passed polygraph tests.
During the polygraph test, Gehrls was asked a series of questions related to the alleged sexual misconduct, including, “Have you had sexual contact with Terry Pansing?” and “While on a Harpo jet, did you have sexual contact with Terry Pansing?” — all of which she answered, “no” to.
Gehrls is seeking more than $75,000 in damages from Harpo, Gooch and Bumpus.
When contacted by Access Hollywood, a rep for Harpo said, “We have not been served.”
Access has reached out to parties named in the lawsuit to clarify a possible incorrect date for Terry Pansing’s polygraph test. The date is listed as July 23, 2008, but is believed to be July 23, 2009.