According to a complaint filed in a California court, United Airlines has been using discriminatory employment practices in staffing its charter flights for athletes. The complaint says it is only staffing the flights with flight attendants who are young, white and blonde and is shutting out older staffers who have decades of experience with the airline.
The complaint was filed by two women who have been with the airline for 34 and 28 years. One woman is Jewish, and the other woman is black. They say that they have tried a number of times to work these flights, but according to their supervisors, lists based on sports team preferences did not include them. The women also say that they initially attempted to solve the issue internally, but United was unresponsive. They say that the actions of the airline have created a culture that allows harassment, discrimination and retaliation.
Charter flights for athletes
The three dozen teams that United has a contract with are from the NCAA, Major League Baseball and the National Football League. Staff who are assigned to these charter flights are paid more and get top accommodations. They also may sometimes be given tickets to the Super Bowl, playoffs and other important events.
The legal documents
The preliminary statement says United is in violation of California law because it places its flight attendants based on their physical attributes and race. The company has responded that performance and attendance are the only criteria used to determine who is eligible for charter flights and that gender, race and age are not considered.
Employees who are concerned about harassment or discrimination at work might want to consult an attorney about employment law and their rights. Even if the employee initially decides to pursue a complaint within workplace channels, it might be helpful to understand what protections the legal system offers. If the employer’s response is inadequate, an attorney may be able to help with the next steps.