Two veteran flight attendants are suing United Airlines for discrimination, saying that the airline favors young, blond, blue-eyed crew members when assigning for flights that serve the NFL, NCAA and MLB, according to a complaint filed in the Superior Court of California. The flight attendants, Kim Guillory and Sharon Tesler, have worked for United Airlines for 28 and 34 years, respectively.
“United has created a despicable situation,” the women said in the complaint, by unlawfully enacting “procedures that are designed to ensure that young, white, blond/blue-eyed, female employees receive positions with the charter program.”
The lawsuit says more senior, Black and Jewish employees are not assigned to the flights, and that the plaintiffs were told by supervisors that they were not on the “preferred” crew list for the charters.
Guillory and Tesler, who are Black and Jewish, respectively, say they discovered that the women on the list were all young, White and have less seniority than them. The sports team flights are coveted flight assignments “since attendants earn more money and can receive perks such as prime tickets and infield passes,” according to Yahoo Sports. The women are seeking monetary damages from United.
The airline, however, says its chartered flights, which shuttle sports teams traveling around the United States, have race and age averages in line with those of the crews on its standard commercial flights.
“While we cannot comment on this ongoing litigation, the flight attendants included in our sports team charter program are largely representative of our overall flight attendant population in regards to age and race,” a spokesperson for United told The Washington Post via email. “Flight attendant eligibility to work a charter flight is based solely on performance and attendance and has nothing to do with age, race or gender.”
“United Airlines is proud of our track record on diversity, equity and inclusion,” the airline said.
The average flight attendant on a United sports charter flight is 46 years old, the airline said, and the average tenure is over 19 years. United also notes: “We have a higher percentage of African Americans in our sports team charter program than in our overall flight attendant population.”
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