(Bloomberg) — United Airlines Holdings Inc. packs its the charter flights for sport teams with young, blond crews and bars older flight attendants from working the plum routes, according to a new lawsuit.
In so doing, the airline bases the value of workers “entirely on their racial and physical attributes, and stereotypical notions of sexual allure,” according to two veteran flight attendants who sued Friday in California.
The attendants — a Black woman who has worked for the airline for 28 years and a Jewish woman with 34 years of tenure — say that they both tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to get assigned to work the charter flights.
United Airlines has contracts to provide air travel for some three dozen teams in the National Football League, Major League Baseball and National Collegiate Athletic Association, according to the lawsuit. Attendants who work those flights earn more and are provided with premium accommodations. They also sometimes get tickets to games, including playoff and Super Bowl tickets, and “extremely valuable” infield passes, according to the lawsuit.
Sharon Tesler and Kim Guillory said they were told by supervisors that they were unable to get work on the charters because they weren’t on “preferred” lists that were based on team preferences, according to the complaint.
They said they later discovered that young, white blond attendants — with less seniority — were given the assignments.
“United has created a despicable situation,” the women said in the complaint. It’s “as if decades of laws and policies preventing discrimination based on age, race and ancestry, and gender simply do not exist.”
United Airlines didn’t respond to a request for comment after hours Friday.
The women said they lodged complaints with the airline but were ignored.
United Airlines “has adopted and continues to implement procedures that are designed to ensure that young, white, blond/blue-eyed, female employees receive positions with the charter program, while more senior, and Black and Jewish employees such as plaintiffs, do not,” they said in the complaint.
The women are asking for monetary, including punitive, damages.
The case is Guillory v. United Airlines, Inc, 20-civ-03889, in Superior Court of California, County of San Mateo.
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