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Eight Black Men Say They Were Discriminated Against When American Airlines Removed Them From Flight

By Nadia El-Yaouti | Posted on June 10, 2024

AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth, File via AP

Photo Source: AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth, File via AP

A new lawsuit is accusing American Airlines of “blatant and egregious racial discrimination” after eight African Americans were removed from a flight last January for seemingly no legitimate reason.

The lawsuit, which was filed late last month in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York, names Alvin Jackson, Emmanuel Jean Joseph, and Xavier Veal as plaintiffs. They say that they, along with five other black men, were taken off a flight leaving from Phoenix, Arizona, and headed to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. The lawsuit explains the men were traveling on the same flight but did not know each other and were not seated next to one another.

After the men disembarked from the airplane, they were told that there had been complaints of body odors. It was not until all the men were taken off the plane to be rebooked on a different flight that they noticed they were all Black. The lawsuit explains, “In fact, once they reached the jet bridge, they saw that several other Black men were also being removed from the plane. In fact, it appeared to Plaintiffs that American had ordered all of the Black male passengers on Flight 832 off the plane.”

The men say that when the flight attendants could not find another flight headed to JFK airport that day, they were allowed to re-board the plane about an hour later. The lawsuit explains, “Plaintiffs then had to reboard the plane and endure the stares of the largely white passengers who viewed them as the cause of the substantial delay. They suffered during the entire flight home, and the entire incident was traumatic, upsetting, scary, humiliating, and degrading.”

American Airlines has not publicly explained what happened or why the men were asked to get off the aircraft, but the company did issue a statement that explained in part, "Our teams are currently investigating the matter, as the claims do not reflect our core values or our purpose of caring for people." American Airlines added that it takes all issues of discrimination “very seriously.”

The men say that there is no other reason they were asked to disembark other than their racial identity. "American’s decision to remove Plaintiffs from the flight was not based on any legitimate rationale. It was an act of blatant discrimination, and it was done with malice and in flagrant disregard of Plaintiffs’ rights” the lawsuit alleges.

The men are seeking compensatory damages, punitive damages, and a trial by jury.

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