Black passengers sue American Airlines, alleging they were thrown off a plane because of false body odor complaint

Joe Raedle/Getty Images/File

American Airlines was sued for alleged racial discrimination.


A lawsuit filed Wednesday on behalf of three black men alleges “blatant and egregious racial discrimination” by American Airlines when they were kicked off a flight.

The suit alleges that the plaintiffs – Alvin Jackson, Emmanuel Jean Joseph and Xavier Veal – and five other Black male passengers were ejected from American Flight 832 from Phoenix to JFK in New York on January 5, 2024, “without any valid reason, based solely on their race,” according to the complaint.

An American Airlines representative approached each of the men before takeoff, according to the complaint, ordering them to get off the plane. The passengers obeyed.

“(O)nce they reached the jetway, they saw that several other black men were also being removed from the plane. In fact, it appeared to the plaintiffs that American had ordered all black passengers of Flight 832 off the plane,” the complaint states.

U.S. officials told the men that a complaint about body odor prompted their removal, according to the complaint. None of the plaintiffs were informed that they personally had body odor, “and in fact, none of the plaintiffs had unpleasant body odor,” it says.

At least one U.S. official agreed with the plaintiffs when they suggested they were singled out because they were black, the suit says.

Footage taken on their mobile phones by some of the men shows a chaotic scene as they question the airline’s actions and record one man saying: “So this is discrimination.” »

“I agree, I agree,” says a woman wearing a badge who appears to be an airline employee.

“We’re the only ones who got off the plane,” a man said, walking through the group. “Look at us.”

In another video, a man comments: “This is crazy. You just took about eight black people off the plane.

The plaintiffs did not know each other before the robbery and were not seated together, according to the complaint.

At the gate, the men were informed that a white flight attendant had made a complaint about body odor, according to the suit.

The men were finally allowed back up about an hour after the airline determined there were no flights available that evening.

“The plaintiffs then had to reboard the plane and endure stares from the largely white passengers, who considered them the cause of the significant delay. They suffered during the entire flight home, and the entire incident was traumatic, upsetting, frightening, humiliating and degrading,” the complaint states.

“We take all allegations of discrimination very seriously and want our customers to have a positive experience when they choose to travel with us,” American Airlines said in a statement.

“Our teams are currently investigating the matter, as these allegations do not reflect our core values ​​or our desire to care for people.”

The plaintiffs seek “declaratory relief, just compensation for their pain and suffering, punitive damages sufficient to deter Americans from discriminating against black passengers in the future,” as well as fees. lawyer.

The complaint also references what it calls “America’s pattern of discrimination against Black passengers,” which resulted in a 2017 NAACP warning about the airline. That warning was lifted nine months later after the airline made progress in addressing the organization’s concerns.

The suit alleges that the treatment of the plaintiffs was part of this pattern.

This is developing news. It will be updated.

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Sara Adm

Aimant les mots, Sara Smith a commencé à écrire dès son plus jeune âge. En tant qu'éditeur en chef de son journal scolaire, il met en valeur ses compétences en racontant des récits impactants. Smith a ensuite étudié le journalisme à l'université Columbia, où il est diplômé en tête de sa classe. Après avoir étudié au New York Times, Sara décroche un poste de journaliste de nouvelles. Depuis dix ans, il a couvert des événements majeurs tels que les élections présidentielles et les catastrophes naturelles. Il a été acclamé pour sa capacité à créer des récits captivants qui capturent l'expérience humaine.
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