Lawsuit accuses American Airlines of removing Black passengers from plane after false body odor complaint

Francis Akhalbey June 03, 2024
Three Black men claim they were removed from an American Airlines plane because of a false body odor complaint -- Photo Credit: Aaron Easton

Three Black men have filed a lawsuit against American Airlines alleging they were ejected from a plane after a White flight attendant made a false body odor complaint. According to CNN, the lawsuit, which was filed on May 29, alleges that American Airlines committed “blatant and egregious race discrimination” when they made the plaintiffs get off the flight.

The January 5 incident is said to have occurred before American Flight 832 took off from Phoenix to New York City. The plaintiffs, identified as Alvin Jackson, Emmanuel Jean Joseph and Xavier Veal, were among the eight Black male passengers who were removed from the plane after the body odor complaint was made.

“(O)nce 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 complaint states.

The complaint alleges that representatives of American told the Black men that they were removed from the plane because of the aforementioned complaint. The suit also claims that the plaintiffs were not informed they individually had body odor, “and in fact none of the Plaintiffs had offensive body odor.” 

The suit further claims that the plaintiffs suggested they were targeted because of their skin color, and at least one American representative agreed with them, per CNN. A video of the incident was also recorded by some of the Black men. 

“So this is discrimination,” one of the men was reportedly heard saying. “I agree, I agree,” a woman appearing to be an airline worker said. “We’re the only ones getting taken off the plane,” a man also said. “Look at us.”

A man in a different video was heard saying, “This is crazy. Y’all just took like eight Black people off the plane.” The complaint also states that the plaintiffs were not sitting together and did not know each other prior to boarding the plane.

The men who were removed from the plane were later allowed to reboard after the airline established there were no more flights that evening. “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,” the complaint states.

The complaint also made mention of a 2017 warning the NAACP issued against American Airlines, stating that it was made because of the company’s “pattern of discriminating against Black passengers.” The organization later lifted the warning after the airline made strides in dealing with the issues raised.  

American Airlines responded to the allegations in a statement, saying that they “take all claims of discrimination very seriously and want our customers to have a positive experience when they choose to fly with us.”

“Our teams are currently investigating the matter, as the claims do not reflect our core values or our purpose of caring for people.”

Besides attorneys fees, the plaintiffs are also seeking “declaratory relief, just compensation for their pain and suffering, a punitive damage award sufficient to deter American from discriminating against Black passengers in the future.” 

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: June 3, 2024


Must Read

Connect with us

Join our Mailing List to Receive Updates