Lawsuit filed against American Airlines by black passengers claiming racial discrimination

Three passengers have filed a lawsuit against American Airlines, claiming that the company’s employees forcibly removed eight Black men from a flight in response to a complaint about a passenger’s body odor.

A lawsuit was filed on Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, alleging that American Airlines employees removed eight Black men from Flight 832 from Phoenix to New York during boarding in January. According to the complaint, the reason given for their removal was an alleged complaint about “offensive body odor.”

A video at the center of the lawsuit captures the removal of several Black men from the flight. These men were not traveling together and were unfamiliar with each other. Remarkably, they were the only Black passengers on the flight.

Emmanuel Jean Joseph, Alvin Jackson, and Xavier Veal, the three plaintiffs, were on a connecting flight from Los Angeles. According to their claims, no employee from American Airlines informed them about any offensive odor during the entirety of the other flight.

As Jean Joseph gathered his belongings and made his way to the jet bridge, he couldn’t help but notice that it was only the Black men who were being removed from the flight, he shared with CBS News senior transportation correspondent Kris Van Cleave.

“I was filled with panic,” recounted Xavier Veal, as he recounted the incident that unfolded before him. Recognizing the gravity of the situation, he quickly reached for his phone and began recording the unsettling events.”

According to the lawsuit, the men were detained in the jetway for approximately an hour before being relocated to the gate area. They were informed that they would be rescheduled for another flight to New York later in the day. The lawsuit further alleges that an American Airlines staff member mentioned that the body odor complaint originated from a “white male flight attendant.”

Read More:  Caleb Williams chosen as the top pick by the Chicago Bears in the 2024 NFL draft

In the video, one can observe a gate agent acknowledging that race played a role in the decision to remove the men from the flight.

The men were forced to board the same plane when they couldn’t find another flight to New York. Jackson expressed his discomfort, noting that “Everyone was staring at me, as if all the other Black people on the plane were singled out.”

Jean Joseph expressed his awareness that upon boarding the plane, he would be met with a sea of White faces, who would hold him responsible for the delayed flight of one hour.

According to Sue Huhta, the lawyer representing the three men, American Airlines has refused to provide any explanation regarding the incident. She believes that it is quite evident that race played a significant role in this situation.

According to Huhta, it is difficult to find any explanation other than their skin color for the incident, especially considering that the individuals involved did not know each other and were not sitting close to each other.

In addition to the recent incidents involving alleged discrimination by American Airlines, the lawsuit also highlights a 2017 travel advisory issued by the NAACP, advising members to avoid flying with the airline. The advisory was later lifted after eight months.

According to CBS legal analyst Rikki Klieman, the lawsuit indicates that the plaintiffs may be more focused on making a public statement about racial discrimination rather than seeking financial compensation. Klieman suggests that the trial will center around American Airlines’ protocols and how it responded to the incident.

Read More:  Over 100 sheriffs show their support for Operation Lone Star

Veal believes that the situation may not have occurred if the person involved had been White.

“We faced discrimination. The entire situation reeked of racism,” he expressed.

American Airlines responded to the allegations of discrimination by stating that they take such claims seriously and prioritize ensuring a positive experience for their customers. They expressed their commitment to investigating the matter thoroughly, emphasizing that the reported incidents are not in line with their core values or their purpose of caring for people.

Read More:

Leave a Comment