A Nigerian woman has sued United Airlines for deplaning her and her two children in Houston following a complaint by a white man who said she had a “pungent” smell.
The woman, Queen Obioma, filed a federal racial discrimination lawsuit against the company last Friday over the incident that occurred in 2016, reports local media Houston Chronicle.
The Nigerian citizen said in the lawsuit that she was flying from Houston to San Francisco with her two children from Nigeria, on their second leg of a three-flight journey to Canada when the white man first took her seat.
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According to court documents cited by Houston Chronicle, during a flight change in Bush Intercontinental Airport, Obioma found the white passenger sitting in her assigned seat and he refused to move.
The flight attendants convinced her to take a nearby seat after the white male passenger persisted. Prior to take off, she visited the restroom and upon her return, the white passenger tried to block her access to the seat for several minutes, according to the lawsuit.
She said she was ordered to disembark the plane with her children who were on their way to school in Canada. She was also told by another United agent that the pilot asked her to exit following the complaint from the white man sitting near her, according to the lawsuit.
The white man had complained that she had a “pungent” smell and that he was not comfortable flying with her.
After removing her and, later, her children from the United flight, it took them five hours to make their connection. Obioma said in her lawsuit that United Airlines discriminated against her because she is black, African and Nigerian.
She is seeking punitive damages and attorney’s fees.
The airline has not made any comments regarding the lawsuit.