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United Airlines Sued for Putting “Younger, White Blonde Flight Attendants” on NFL Charter Flights

United Airlines Sued for Putting “Younger, White Blonde Flight Attendants” on NFL Charter Flights

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United Airlines has been accused of only using “youthful, white flight attendants – most of whom are blonde” on NFL charter flights for the Los Angeles Rams, as well as a number of other sports teams including the Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints and Pittsburgh Pirates.

Two veteran United Airlines flight attendants have filed a discrimination lawsuit in the Superior Court of California alleging older crew are barred from operating on charter flights and the airline determines the economic value of crew based “entirely on their racial and physical attributes, and stereotypical notions of sexual allure.”

Photo Credit: United Airlines

The suit has been brought by long-serving flight attendants Kim Guillory and Sharon Tesler. The former, a black woman who is aged over 39-years, has worked for United Airlines and Continental Airlines since 1992. Tesler, who identifies as Jewish, has worked for United since 1986.

The two women claim United’s “assignment of flight attendants for charter flights arranged by dozens of professional and collegiate American sports teams is based entirely and unlawfully on age, race and ancestry, gender, and physical appearance.”

“United has not only demeaned its hard-working and long-standing loyal employees, but created an egregious workplace culture in which discrimination, harassment, and retaliation have taken root and flourished,” the suit continues.

While it’s not uncommon for airlines to offer charter services in which a sports club or corporation can hire an entire plane and crew to operate a specific flight, the two women claim United’s charter flights are operated by crew who are “young, white, female, and predominantly blond/blue-eyed”.

Charter customers are apparently allowed to choose between hiring a dedicated set of flight attendants who have been specially chosen for these types of assignments or simply having any crew who are available at the time. United allegedly encourages charter customers to pick the dedicated crew option.

Both women spotted charter flights listed in the flight attendant open market trip bidding system but were unable to assign themselves to the flights despite their seniority. When Guillory raised the issue she was told the flight was only open to a preferred list of flight attendants which consists “entirely of youthful, white flight attendants”.

United denied the accusations and said the charter customers were allowed to pick from a list of flight attendants – “there was nothing United could do except comply with the customer’s request,” the lawsuit claims.

Tesler says she tried many times to pick up charter flights that appeared on the open market scheduling system but every time she attempted to pick up a charter flight her request was turned out. She claims to have found out that each time, younger blonde flight attendants with less seniority were allowed to pick up the trips.

The lucky crew who did get to pick up the flights were offered tickets to attend games including the Superbowl and got hold of valuable field access passes, as well as merchandise.

United has “created a despicable situation,” the women further allege, asking the court to award them compensatory damages for discrimination and harassment they’ve allegedly suffered.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the airline said: “United Airlines is proud of our track record on diversity, equity and inclusion. 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.”

“Importantly, 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.”

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