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A lawsuit has been filed against United Airlines accusing the company of favoring young, white flight attendants with blond hair to work charter flights for professional and collegiate sports teams.
Filed by Kim Guillory, a black woman, and Sharon Tesler, a Jewish woman, who are both “over the age of 39,” Major League Baseball, NCCA and National Football League teams have flown on charter flights over the past several years staffed with “dedicated crews” that were unfairly staffed with crew members who “fit a specific visual image,” USA Today reported.
The preferred image for flight attendants on the special charter flights, according to the complaint, was “young, white, female, and predominately blond/blue-eyed.”
Teams named were the San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Rams, Kansas City Chiefs, and New Orleans Saints, according to the national paper.
More from USA Today:
The lawsuit claims teams have the option to fly with either an “open time crew,” which opens the door for any flight crew member and results in a higher level of “diversity among age, race and gender,” or “dedicated crew,” which it says United “encourages a majority of its customers to elect to hire.” These “dedicated crews,” the lawsuit claims, are made up of young, white and “predominantly blond/blue-eyed” women.
“The selection and assignment of the In flight Charter Coordinators, ‘dedicated crews,’ and the ‘dedicated list’ for the charter program was, and continues to be, unlawfully based on race and ancestry, age, and gender,” the lawsuit alleges.
Guillory, who worked at United for 28 years, told CBS affiliate KPIX 5 the airline’s actions are “blatant discrimination.”
“Every time a new flight attendant was added to the crew that they all look like sisters, they were all white female and blondes, and I thought, well that’s strange,” she said. “I’m based in San Francisco, and you’ll be hard pressed to find all white blonde females considering that San Francisco is one of the more demographically diverse group of flight attendants.”
Tesler, a 34-year-old employee, called the alleged actions “dehumanizing, demoralizing.”
“When I looked to see who got it it was a blond-haired, blue-eyed woman,” she said. “Some people are getting on it with no experience.”
The woman are represented by San Francisco-based attorney Angelo Alioto, who told KPIX 5 that “you can’t change who you are.
“They can’t become white with blue eyes and blonde hair and be 25, years old,” Alioto stated. “And all these men sitting in a room, deciding who are going to be their flight attendants on these charters. I think it’s absolutely despicable.”
United Airlines stands by it track record and the required qualifications for charter flights.
“United Airlines is proud of our track record on diversity, equity and inclusion,” the airline said in a statement. “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,” the release added, “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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