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American Airlines Suspends Employees After Incident Involving Removal of Black Passengers

American Airlines suspended employees after black passengers were removed over a body odour complaint, leading to a racial discrimination lawsuit.

Several employees at American Airlines have been suspended due to their involvement in an incident where black passengers were removed from a flight following a complaint about body odour.

In May, three passengers sued the airline, alleging racial discrimination related to the 5 January incident.

The Chief Executive Officer, Robert Isom, addressed employees in a note, stating that the incident was unacceptable and that the company “fell short” of its customer commitment.

“We are holding those involved accountable, including removing team members from service,” the airline said in a statement.

Additionally, American Airlines has announced various initiatives to prevent such incidents, including creating an “advisory group” focused on the experience of black passengers.

In the May lawsuit, three men who did not know each other and were not seated together claimed that all black men were removed from the Phoenix to New York City flight.

Eight passengers in total were removed from the flight.

“American Airlines singled us out for being black, embarrassed us, and humiliated us,” they said in a statement.

The three men, Alvin Jackson, Emmanuel Jean Joseph, and Xavier Veal, stated that American Airlines targeted them because of their race, causing them embarrassment and humiliation.

The men were eventually allowed to return to their seats on the original flight.

In a letter to employees dated 18 June, Isom expressed he was “incredibly disappointed by what happened on the flight and the breakdown of our procedures.”

“We fell short of our commitments and failed our customers,” he said.

Isom also affirmed the airline’s dedication to collaborating with civil rights organisations like The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to rebuild trust.

This is not the first time American Airlines has faced discrimination allegations.

In a 2017 incident, the NAACP advised black travellers to avoid the airline, citing a pattern of “disrespectful” and “discriminatory” behaviour and a “corporate culture of racial insensitivity and possible racial bias.”

The advisory was lifted the following year after the airline implemented operational changes.

However, on 4 June this year, the NAACP warned that it might reinstate the advisory unless American Airlines responded swiftly and decisively to the January incident.

Nancy Mbamalu 

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