United Airlines Sued for Allegedly Preferring White, Blond Crews on NFL Charters

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistSeptember 12, 2020

A United Airlines jetliner lifts off from a runway at Denver International Airport as travellers deal with the effects of the new coronavirus Wednesday, June 10, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Two flight attendants sued United Airlines on Friday on the basis that "young, white blond attendants" were given priority over them to work on NFL and other sports charter flights.

According to Robert Burnson of Bloomberg, Sharon Tesler and Kim Guillory allege United Airlines' decisions regarding which flight attendants are assigned to sports charter flights are based "entirely on their racial and physical attributes, and stereotypical notions of sexual allure."

One of the flight attendants who filed the suit is a Black woman with 28 years of experience, while the other is a Jewish woman with 34 years of experience.

Tesler and Guillory, who are seeking "monetary, including punitive, damages," say they tried many times to get assigned to the sports charter flights, only to be told they couldn't since the choices were "based on team preferences."

In the complaint, the flight attendants say 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."

Sports charters are desirable for flight attendants since the pay and accommodations are better, per Burnson. The lawsuit notes that flight attendants can land significant perks, including tickets to games and infield passes.

The lawsuit states three dozen NFL, MLB and NCAA teams have charter deals with United Airlines.

Neither United Airlines nor the NFL commented on the allegations made by Tesler and Guillory.

The 2020 NFL season kicked off Thursday with a game between the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs, and the majority of the remainder of the Week 1 games will be played Sunday.