Black men sue American Airlines for ‘racial discrimination’

Three black men have filed a lawsuit against American Airlines, alleging that the airline briefly removed them from a flight after a body odor complaint.

The men, who were not seated together and did not know each other, say all the black men were removed from the Jan. 5 flight from Phoenix, Arizona, to New York.

“American Airlines singled us out for being black, shamed us, and humiliated us,” the men said in a joint statement Wednesday.

The Texas-based airline said it was investigating the matter because the allegations did not align with its values.

According to a federal lawsuit filed by the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, the men had already taken their seats and were preparing to depart Phoenix when a flight attendant approached each of them and asked them to leave the plane.

Alvin Jackson, Emmanuel Jean Joseph and Xavier Veal allege that as they were leaving, they realized that “all the black men on the flight were being kicked out.”

Each of the men had flown in from Los Angeles earlier that day, without any problems.

At the flight gate, an airline agent told the three men, along with five other people, that they had been “rejected because a white flight attendant had complained about an unidentified passenger’s body odor.”

“There is no other explanation than the color of our skin,” the men said in a statement Wednesday, adding, “Clearly this was racial discrimination.”

American Airlines employees attempted to rebook the men on other flights, but there were no other services to New York that night. At that point the group was allowed to return to their seats on their original flight.

American Airlines said in a statement: “We take all reports of discrimination very seriously and want our customers to have a positive experience when they choose to fly with us.

“Our teams are currently investigating the matter as the claims do not reflect our core values ​​or our purpose of caring for people.”

The lawsuit adds that while the men waited outside the plane, the pilot made an announcement telling passengers there was a delay due to a problem with “body odor.” The plaintiffs say the odor claim was false.

“Throughout the flight, from the moment of reboarding, through every interaction with the white flight attendant, and until landing, Plaintiffs experienced profound feelings of shame, humiliation, anxiety, anger, and distress,” the lawsuit states.

“The act of returning to their seats after the unjustified delay, passing by predominantly white passengers, several of whom looked at them with anger and undue suspicion, compounded their humiliation.”

The lawsuit says the airline should be forced to pay unspecified damages for the “trauma” the men suffered.

One of the men who sued, Joseph, told the BBC that the “alienating” experience reminded him of civil rights heroine Rosa Parks, forced to move to the back of an Alabama bus in 1955 due to discrimination. state-sanctioned race.

“It’s a weird, crazy story that in 2024 we’re still going through things like this,” Joseph said.

He added that the lawsuit is necessary to ensure that American Airlines doesn’t end up “with a slap on the wrist.”

In 2017, the NAACP, a civil rights group, issued a travel advisory asking black Americans to avoid American Airlines due to discrimination.

They lifted the notice the following year after the airline announced it had made changes to its operations.

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