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United Airlines Sued by Flight Attendants Over Sports Charter Staffing

A United 777 at Dulles International Airport. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Craig Fischer)

Two of United Airlines’ veteran flight attendants filed suit against their employer in a California court on Friday. According to a report by USA TODAY, who obtained a copy of the lawsuit, flight attendants Kim Guillory and Sharon Tesler claim United is staffing their athletic team charter flights with flight attendants who are “young, white, female, and predominately blond/blue-eyed.”

Guillory, a Black woman, and Tesler, a Jewish woman, both “over the age of 39,” claim United’s sports charters have flown the past several years staffed with “dedicated crews” that “fit a specific visual image.”

“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. 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,” United told USA TODAY

The lawsuit claims that United’s sports charter clients have options when considering who works their flights. They are free to choose between “open time crews,” an option that allows any flight crew member to work the charter, or a “dedicated crew” which, the lawsuit claims, are made up of young, white and “predominantly blond/blue-eyed” women.

The lawsuit claims United encourages its charter clients to select the dedicated crews and that the crews are selected “unlawfully based on race and ancestry, age and gender.” 

United provides air transportation to nearly three dozen teams in Major League Baseball, the National Collegiate Athletic Association and National Football League like the San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Rams, Kansas City Chiefs and New Orleans Saints.

Both plaintiffs have claimed they have repeatedly tried to get assigned to the charter flights but were unsuccessful.

Tesler, a United employee for 36 years, claims she experienced “multiple incidents of employees at United discriminating against Jewish individuals,” with both offensive comments about Jewish and Israeli people and comments about her own dark hair, which she alleges has been called “Jewish hair.” Tesler claims she was told to cut her hair to “align with United’s visual image of a stereotypically white flight attendant.”

Guillory, a former Continental Airlines employee who moved to United after the two airlines merged, is a 26-year veteran across Continental and United. She also claims ongoing discrimination related to flight crew assignments to charters and has been “subjected to ongoing discrimination, harassment and retaliation that has been escalating in severity and frequency.” Guillory claims she has brought up her concerns about the lack of diversity among crew members on NFL charter flights several times.

The plaintiffs also claim flight crews assigned to work charter flights are violating company policies related to the value of “gifts” provided to them by United’s charter clients. Flight crew members working sports charters routinely are offered tickets to games and field passes which exceed a $25 value limited by company policy for gifts.

Rick Shideler

Author

  • Rick Shideler

    Rick is a retired airline maintenance professional with over 40 years experience in commercial, corporate and military aviation sectors. Rick holds an FAA Airframe & Powerplant (A&P) and a FCC General RadioTelephone Licenses. Rick is a veteran of the United States Air Force and has served in multiple leadership positions including Director of Maintenance for a large corporate aviation firm, airline Director of Engineering and has chaired multiple aviation maintenance safety and reliability industry committees. Rick took his first airplane ride at six months old and became an airline geek shortly thereafter.

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