In more bad publicity for United Airlines, two crew members have filed a lawsuit claiming they were discriminated against when it came to allocating staff to high profile flights, because they did not fit a “white, young, thin, blonde and blue-eyed” profile preferred by VIP baseball players.
Selected because of how they looked
The two female flight attendants, Dawn Todd, 50, and Darby Quezada, 44, have had careers spanning 15 years with the airline and both had successfully gone through a rigorous internal interview procedure meaning they were on a roster of staff able to serve on VIP charter flights, such as those carrying baseball players from the Los Angeles Dodgers. Staff working such flights can earn up to three times as much as normal.
Two stewardesses have sued #UnitedAirlines for firing them from #LADodger charter flights because they’re not “young, white and thin.”#DARBYQUEZADA, 44, WAS RECRUITED IN VENEZUELA AND COME UP THROUGH THE DODGER FARM SYSTEM. #DAWNTODD, 50, WAS DRAFTED OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL IN 1997. pic.twitter.com/WGtfSpxLCe— email@example.com (@TheLaughMakers) October 29, 2023
Yet, in 2022, the lawsuit says, several white United attendants were “blatantly selected by United’s management” and “added to the ‘dedicated crew’” without undergoing the same extensive selection process, thanks to “how they looked: they are white, young, thin women who are predominately blonde and blue-eyed.”
#MeToo timebomb for the LA Dodgers?
The new recruits to the team went on to dominate the roster, while Todd and Quezada received fewer assignments and were effectively deselected and demoted. They allege they were told “these white flight attendants fit a ‘certain look’ that the Dodgers players liked”.
While the LA Dodgers are not named as defendants in the suit, the implication that its players are ogling or sexually interested in staff who serve on team transport will not go unnoticed and suggests a potential #MeToo timebomb waiting to go off in the aviation sector. A Dodgers team spokesperson told the Los Angeles Times that the team does not comment on pending litigation.
In addition, the claimants say they were subject to demeaning remarks both on flights and in meetings. As well as the lack of work leaving them worse off financially, they allege the treatment caused them “anxiety and other conditions”. They filed the lawsuit on 25 October in LA claiming unspecified damages for “harassment and/or discrimination based on race, national origin, religion and age”.
“Stereotypical notions of sexual allure”
United has rejected the claims. “We believe this lawsuit is without merit and intend to defend ourselves vigorously,” the airline is reported to have told The Independent.
United fosters an environment of inclusion and does not tolerate discrimination of any kind.United Airlines
However, while denying any wrongdoing, the carrier appears to have form in this type of corporate behaviour. In March 2021, United agreed to settle with two other flight attendants who had accused them of choosing “which flight attendants were assigned to sports charter flights ‘entirely on their racial and physical attributes, and stereotypical notions of sexual allure’”.