Suit: United Staffs Dodgers' Charters With Young, White Blondes

2 longtime flight attendants accuse airline of race, age discrimination
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 2, 2023 11:05 AM CDT
Suit: United Staffs Dodgers' Charters With Young, White Blondes
A United Airlines Boeing 787 approaches for landing in Lisbon, Sept. 2, 2023, with the setting moon in the background.   (AP Photo/Armando Franca, File)

Two United Airlines flight attendants are suing their longtime employer, whom they allege discriminates against employees based on race, national origin, religion, and age. The plaintiffs claim they were demoted from the airline's sports team charter program—a highly coveted position in which flight attendants can earn double or triple their usual pay due to longer flight times—because they weren't young, white, and blonde. Dawn Todd, 50, is Black, while Darby Quezada, 44, is of Mexican, Black, and Jewish descent, per NPR. They say they were removed from charter flights for the Los Angeles Dodgers and replaced with flight attendants who "fit a specific visual image," according to the lawsuit.

United was similarly accused of discriminating against other Black and Jewish flight attendants through its staffing of sports teams' charter flights with employees who "fit a specific visual image" in a 2020 lawsuit, per USA Today. At the time, it said "flight attendant eligibility to work a charter flight is based solely on performance and attendance" and "flight attendants included in our sports team charter program are largely representative of our overall flight attendant population in regards to age and race," per NPR. Quezada and Todd say they were interviewed and selected for the Inflight Charter Program only after that suit was filed, per Insider. They claim other flight attendants were selected without interviews because "they are white, young, thin women who are predominately (blonde) and blue-eyed."

Todd says she and other minority flight attendants who joined the program never actually worked charter flights. When Todd questioned why Black employees were denied equal opportunity to participate in charters, management allegedly called her the "flight's maid" and gave her cleaning work. Quezada claims other flight attendants told her she was only part of the crew because they needed "a Mexican to clean the bathrooms," per Insider. The women's attorney says "United's blatantly discriminatory staffing decisions allowed the cancer of racism and antisemitism to metastasize on the flights themselves." United counters that it "fosters an environment of inclusion and does not tolerate discrimination of any kind." (More United Airlines stories.)

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