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American Airlines sued by three Black men who were ‘forced off plane because of body odor’

The Race Report

Three Black men are suing American Airlines claiming they were kicked off a New York-bound flight after a white flight attendant complained of body odor.

The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York on Wednesday.

The men, identified in the suit as Alvin Jackson, Emmanuel Jean Joseph and Xavier Veal, claim the airline engaged in “blatant and egregious race discrimination” when they and five other Black male passengers were kicked off their flight from Phoenix, Arizona without a valid reason shortly before takeoff on 5 January 2024.

The complainants say that a representative for the airline approached them and ordered the men off the plane. As the men moved to get off, they noticed other Black male passengers were being removed from the aircraft, in what they thought to be an effort to remove all Black male passengers from the plane.

The complaint states that the men were not seated together.

Three Black men are suing American Airlines alleging that they were forced off a January flight by a white flight attendant
Three Black men are suing American Airlines alleging that they were forced off a January flight by a white flight attendant (Getty Images)

Back at the gate, the men demanded an explanation and were told that the flight attendant had complained about body odor. None of the passengers were told that they personally had “offensive body odor,” the court documents state.

The plaintiffs stated that it appeared that they had been kicked off the flight because of their race and said that the white flight attendant had treated them differently.

At least one representative echoed their remarks and replied “I agree. I agree,” the complaint states.

The men were then told they would be booked on another flight. Airline representatives worked to handle the situation for about an hour, causing a significant delay to the flight.

During that time, the pilot had alerted travelers that the delay was caused by a concern about body odor.

Only when it became apparent that there were no other available American flights that evening, they were allowed back on the plane.

“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,” the complaint states. “They suffered during the entire flight home, and the entire incident was traumatic, upsetting, scary, humiliating and degrading.”

The white…

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