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United blocks older crews from sports teams' charter flights, lawsuit claims

United blocks older crews from sports teams' charter flights, lawsuit claims
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A lawsuit against United Airlines alleges the company only allowed young, blonde crews to work charter flights for sports teams.

The practice discriminates against some workers and benefits others based “entirely on their racial and physical attributes, and stereotypical notions of sexual allure,” the two flight attendants who filed the lawsuit said, according to Bloomberg.

Sharon Tesler and Kim Guillory, who have more than six decades of work for the airline between them, said they have both tried in vain to get assigned to the flights in question numerous times.

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The plaintiffs said in the lawsuit that when they spoke to supervisors about being assigned to the flights, they were told they were not “preferred” lists. They claimed they eventually discovered the assignments were going to young, white and blonde attendants at lower levels of seniority.

The airline 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,” the lawsuit claims.

United denied the allegations in a statement to Bloomberg Saturday.

“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,” the company said. “Importantly, 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.”

The airline claimed its flight attendants on the athletic charter are 46 years old, on average, and have an average of more than 19 years’ tenure. The company also denied racial discrimination in the assignments, saying the charter flights had a higher proportion of African American flight attendants than the airline overall.