[Fox Business] American Airlines sued for racial discrimination for removing Black men from flight

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American Airlines has been hit with a racial discrimination lawsuit for temporarily removing eight Black men from a flight after a White flight attendant complained of the body odor of a passenger.

The complaint filed in a federal court in Brooklyn by three of the men says they were asked to step off a flight from Phoenix to New York City in January for an hour and a half, and claims the passengers removed were clearly discriminated against because none of them smelled bad and they were all Black. 

The plaintiffs called the ordeal “traumatic, upsetting, scary, humiliating, and degrading.”

The men accused the airline of violating a Civil War-era law banning race discrimination in contracts. They are seeking unspecified damages for pain and suffering and punitive damages for “malicious, willful … and reckless conduct.”

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American Airlines said in a statement it was investigating the matter, and that the claims did not reflect the company’s values.

“We take all claims of discrimination very seriously and want our customers to have a positive experience when they choose to fly with us,” the airline said.

Susan Huhta, a lawyer for the three plaintiffs, said in a statement that the incident was part of a “disturbing history” of allegations that American discriminates against Black passengers.

Last month, NPR and other outlets reported that a Black retired judge from Chicago had filed a complaint with American saying she was blocked from using a first-class bathroom on a flight even though she had a first-class ticket.

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And in separate incidents last year, track and field star Sha’Carri Richardson and musician David Ryan Harris, who are Black, said on social media that they were falsely accused of wrongdoing by American flight attendants.

Richardson said she was removed from a plane for allegedly harassing an attendant, and Harris said he was suspected of child trafficking while traveling with his biracial children. The airline apologized to Harris and said Richardson was booked on a different flight.

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In 2017, the NAACP urged Black travelers not to fly American, citing what it said were a series of racially-based incidents. The civil rights organization withdrew its advisory after the airline agreed to update its policies and train employees on implicit bias.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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