Airline sued over ‘young, blonde’ hosties
United Airlines has been accused of favouring young, white, blonde flight attendants to work charter flights for professional and collegiate sports teams, according to a lawsuit filed in the US.
On Friday, two veteran flight attendants employed by United took the airline to court in California.
The flight attendants, who are both "over the age of 39", said United filled charter flights for National Football League, Major League Baseball and National Collegiate Athletic Association teams with "dedicated crews" to "fit a specific visual image" over the last several years, USA Today reported.
The complaint claims the airline assigns flight attendants who are "young, white, female, and predominantly blonde/blue-eyed" for these special trips.
"It is blatant discrimination," said plaintiff Kim Guillory, a black woman who has worked at the carrier for 28 years.
"It's dehumanising, demoralising," agreed plaintiff Sharon Tesler, who is Jewish and has worked for United for 34 years.
According to the outlet, both Ms Guillory and Ms Tesler were "repeatedly denied" the opportunity to work these "plum assignment" flights. Upon inquiring with supervisors, the women claim they were told that they were not on the "preferred" list for the shift.
"Every time a new flight attendant was added to the crew that they all look like sisters, they were all white female and blondes, and I thought, well that's strange," Ms Guillory said.
"I'm based in San Francisco, and you'll be hard-pressed to find all-white, blonde females considering that San Francisco is one of the more demographically diverse group of flight attendants."
"When I looked to see who got it, it was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed woman," Ms Tesler said. "Some people are getting on it with no experience."
According to the lawsuit, the airline has travel contracts for three dozen teams in the NFL, MLB and NCAA, Bloomberg reports.
United flight attendants who staff these charter flights reportedly earn more money and receive premium accommodations. These employees can also sometimes score tickets to games - reportedly including playoffs and the Super Bowl - in addition to coveted infield passes, the suit claims.
When reached for comment, a spokesperson for United denied that there was any discrimination in charter flight assignments, further stressing the company's commitment to diversity and inclusion.
"United Airlines is proud of our track record on diversity, equity 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 spokesperson told Fox News.
"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 plaintiffs seek monetary damages, including punitive payments.
This article originally appeared on Fox News and was reproduced with permission
Originally published as Airline sued over 'young, blonde' hosties