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United Airlines Sued for Allegedly Favoring White, Female Crew Members for LA Dodger Charter Flights

A lawsuit was filed against United Airlines yesterday, October 25, 2023, by two United Airlines employees with over 30 years of combined service time for the company. Plaintiff Dawn Todd is a 50-year-old Black woman and Plaintiff Darby Quezada is a 44-year-old woman of Mexican, Black, and Jewish descent. The lawsuit centers on United’s staffing of its Los Angeles Dodger Charter Program.

Per their complaint, plaintiffs say a team charter crew member is a highly coveted position because members can “earn more money, receive premium accommodations and higher per diem compensation, and often receive valuable sporting event tickets, field passes, and rare sports merchandise.” In fact, plaintiffs say that former Dodger Justin Turner gave staff “manilla envelopes of cash . . . at the end of the 2021 season.”

However, plaintiffs say they were denied this role for more than a decade, despite having the necessary experience and qualifications, because of their race. Specifically, plaintiffs claim that United staffed the program “with virtually all white crews.” Finally, after “extensive interviews,” plaintiffs were selected to serve as members of the dedicated crew for the Dodgers Inflight Charter Program.

However, in 2022, after several White United flight attendants in their 20s or 30s were added to the crew without interviews, Todd and Quezada claim they were told that interviews were not required for those women because the new additions “fit a ‘certain look’ that the Dodgers players liked.” Quezada claims that her supervisor told Quezada that she was shocked the Dodgers’ Senior Director of Team Travel said, “hi” to Quezada “since he only prefers white and Asian flight attendants.”

Todd and Quezada say they began receiving far fewer flight assignments before Todd was demoted from the crew around the beginning of the 2023 MLB season. Todd alleges she was “replaced by white female flight attendants . . . who leapfrogged the minority flight attendants who had seniority but were pushed to the bottom.” Todd says this caused her financial harm.

Per the complaint, in September of 2023, Todd submitted a formal complaint to United but the defendant “took no meaningful action to investigate Todd’s complaints, address the widespread discrimination, or protect her from retaliation.” Further, Todd says she and Quezada have been retaliated against after no longer getting selected for any charter flights and hostile and unfair treatment in the workplace.

Quezada, a granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, says that when she once ordered a kosher meal on one of the Dodger flights, coworkers belittled her and said, “you know Jesus died for you even if you don’t believe” and “you don’t look Jewish.”

Quezada and Todd also allege that minority flight attendants have not received a cut or any of the tips, gifts, and merchandise provided by the players.

With that, the plaintiffs filed an 11-count complaint in LA County Court. This is not the first time United Airlines has been accused of favoring young, white, blonde attendants for sports flights.

Jason Morrin is a Workers’ Compensation and Employment attorney at Morrin & Sands. He graduated cum laude from Hofstra Law School where he was president of the Sports and Entertainment Law Society. His reporting for Conduct Detrimental has been cited by ESPN, The New York Post, USA Today, Bleacher Report, and more.

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