News & Opinion | September 14, 2020 12:20 pm

United Airlines Sued for Staffing NFL Charters With Young, Blonde Flight Attendants

The lawsuit claims flight attendants are valued for youth and appearance over experience and performance

young blonde flight attendant
Two flight attendants claim coveted assignments often go to young, blonde employees.
izusek/Getty Images

Two flight attendants are suing United Airlines for packing charter flights for sports teams with young, blonde flight attendants, allegedly privileging youth and appearance over experience and performance.

According to the lawsuit, filed Friday in California, United Airlines bases staffing decisions for those high-profile flights “entirely on [employees’] racial and physical attributes, and stereotypical notions of sexual allure,” Bloomberg reported.

The flight attendants behind the suit, a Black woman who has been with the airline for 28 years and a Jewish woman who has worked there for 34 years, claim they tried many times to work the charter flights. According to the lawsuit, employees assigned to the charter flights — which cater to teams in the National Football League, Major League Baseball and National Collegiate Athletic Association — reap perks including premium accommodations, higher pay and even tickets to games.

The plaintiffs claim United Airlines “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.”

In a statement Saturday, United Airlines emphasized its commitment to diversity and inclusion.

“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.”

Subscribe here for our free daily newsletter.