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Flight attendants sue United Airlines for discrimination on Dodgers charter flights


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    LOS ANGELES (KCAL) — A pair of longtime flight attendants for United Airlines have filed a lawsuit against the company, claiming that based on a request from the Los Angeles Dodgers, they use almost exclusively younger White attendants on charter flights for the team.

The lawsuit, filed with the Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges that United removed minority female flight attendants from Dodgers charter flights, replacing them with “young White thin women who did not have to interview for the highly coveted positions,” and thus engaging in discrimination.

Additionally, the lawsuit alleges that White employees of United Airlines engaged in blatant racism, discrimination and antisemitism towards minority counterparts on those charter flights, of which there are around 60 per season.

One plaintiff in the suit, identified as Darby Quezada, is of Black, Mexican and Jewish descent. She claims that she was referred to as the “flight’s maid” because they needed a “Mexican to clean the bathrooms,” and that she was told to stop speaking Spanish with a Dodger player because “we are in America.” She also claims to have endured antisemitic comments like “you know Jesus died for you even if you don’t believe” and “you don’t look Jewish.”

Dawn Todd, a co-plaintiff in the lawsuit, is Black and has spent more than 17 years with United. She alleges that she suffered retaliation after complaining about the demotion and denial of benefits and perks for Black attendants on the Dodgers flight and racism and ageism she’s experienced, the lawsuit says.

Todd, Quezada and their attorney spoke with KCAL News on Monday.

“It shouldn’t be based on the color of my skin, I can’t change it, she can’t change it,” Todd.

Todd and Quezada say that they were initially chosen to be a part of the charter team, but had their assignments denied by the airline, which they believe was based on race and other physical bias. They say that the less-experienced attendants were instead selected — without having to interview — because they fit “the look.”

The two say that despite their interviews, and being among the best of the best, they were denied the positions, which are viewed in the industry as a promotion of sorts.

“I looked at the list and that’s when they added three blonde hair, blue-eyed, Caucasian individuals,” Quezada said.

Their attorney says while the Dodgers are not listed as a defendant in the case, he understands changes were made based on team’s preferences for crew members.

“There’s either discrimination against them specifically because they were demoted and we need to understand why, because they have perfect records, employment records here, ” said Sam S. Yebri, the attorney for both plaintiffs in the lawsuit. “Or the system is broken. Either the Dodgers were making decisions and United was deferring to them, or — what we know is it was not random.”

He also issued a statement at the time that the suit was filed on Monday.

“Major America corporations like United Airlines must understand that it is illegal to make staffing decisions based on an employee’s race and looks, even if it is meant to please major clients like the Los Angeles Dodgers,” the statement read. “United’s blatantly discriminatory staffing decisions allowed the cancer of racism and antisemitism to metastasize on the flights themselves.”

Todd and Quezada are seeking a jury trial and an unspecified amount in damages.

In response to a request for statement, the airline said: “United fosters an environment of inclusion and does not tolerate discrimination of any kind. We believe this lawsuit is without merit and intend to defend ourselves vigorously.”

United Airlines, which is based in Chicago, was targeted in a similar lawsuit in 2020, which claimed that the airline discriminated against Black and Jewish attendant for their various athletic teams charter services, staffing them with only those who “fit a specific visual image” like “young, White, female and predominantly blonde/blue-eyed” employees.

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