Flight Attendants Blocked from Ritzy Dodgers Charter for Not Being ‘Blond, Blue-Eyed’: Lawsuit
Have you ever been discriminated against because of the color of your skin, your height, your gender, or your nationality? Discrimination can take many forms, from subtle bias to outright prejudice. But when it happens at work, it can be especially hurtful, robbing you of your dignity and your livelihood. That’s what a group of flight attendants are alleging in a new lawsuit against charter airline JetSuiteX.
According to the lawsuit, which was filed on Monday in Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland, California, JetSuiteX subjected non-white flight attendants to a hostile work environment by blocking them from working a charter flight for the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team because they were not “blond, blue-eyed, and female.” Instead, the airline allegedly hired white, blond, and blue-eyed women for the June 2019 flight from Los Angeles to a game in Cincinnati.
The lawsuit claims that the flight attendants who were blocked from working on the Dodgers charter were predominantly Black, Hispanic, or Asian-American, and that they were told by JetSuiteX supervisors that they didn’t fit the team’s “image.” The airline allegedly labeled those who were blocked as “the Twins” – shorthand for the two non-white flight attendants on the team at that time – and made them feel ostracized and excluded from future work opportunities.
The lawsuit alleges that JetSuiteX violated California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, and other protected categories, and that it retaliated against the flight attendants who complained about the discriminatory treatment by blocking them from working future charter flights. The suit seeks unspecified damages, as well as an injunction against JetSuiteX from engaging in further discrimination.
A spokesperson for JetSuiteX declined to comment on the pending litigation. However, the Dodgers organization issued a statement on Tuesday saying that it does not condone discrimination or any other form of inappropriate behavior in the workplace, and that it was “investigating” the allegations. The team also stressed that it was not involved in the hiring or firing of any JetSuiteX personnel.
The allegations in the lawsuit reflect a troubling pattern of discrimination against minority workers in the airline industry, which has long been criticized for its lack of diversity and inclusion. According to a 2018 report by Forbes, aviation ranks among the least racially diverse industries in the United States, with only 7% of airline pilots and 6% of airline technicians identifying as non-white.
Furthermore, flight attendants – who are typically the face of the airline industry for passengers – have also been subject to harassment and discrimination on the job. A survey by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA found that 68% of flight attendants had experienced verbal harassment from passengers, while 35% had dealt with physical harassment. The survey also revealed that LGBTQ+ and non-white flight attendants were more likely to experience harassment than their white, straight colleagues.
It’s clear that discrimination and harassment remain persistent problems in the airline industry, and that much more needs to be done to create a more equitable and inclusive workplace for all employees. The lawsuit against JetSuiteX may serve as a wake-up call to other companies in the industry that they need to take proactive steps to address unconscious bias, promote diversity, and foster a culture of respect and fairness. Until then, flight attendants and other workers who suffer discrimination and retaliation will have no choice but to continue fighting for their rights in the courts and in the court of public opinion.