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Flight attendants claim United took them off Dodgers' charter flights for not being 'white, young, thin'

A United Airlines jetliner lifts off from a runway at Denver International Airport
In a lawsuit, two United Airlines flight attendants alleged harassment and/or discrimination based on race, national origin, religion and age in regard to the staffing of charter flights for the Dodgers. (David Zalubowski / Associated Press)

Two United Airlines flight attendants claim in a lawsuit that they were passed over for the plum assignment of working on charter flights for the Dodgers because the players prefer a "certain look" of "white, young, thin women who are predominately blond and blue-eyed."

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Dawn Todd and Darby Quezada alleged harassment and/or discrimination based on race, national origin, religion and age in regard to the staffing of United's charter flights for the Dodgers and their treatment by coworkers on those flights. Todd, 50, is Black, and Quezada, 44, is of Mexican, Black and Jewish descent.

The Dodgers are not named as defendants in the lawsuit. A team spokesperson told The Times that the Dodgers do not comment on any pending litigation.

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United responded to questions from The Times with a statement.

"United fosters an environment of inclusion and does not tolerate discrimination of any kind," the company wrote in an email. "We believe this lawsuit is without merit and intend to defend ourselves vigorously."

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According to the lawsuit, Todd and Quezada both have worked for United for more than 15 years and had spent more than a decade trying to join the airline's program that staffs the Dodgers' flights. Such assignments can bring attendants up to three times the compensation of typical assignments because of longer flight times and other perks.

"Plaintiffs had the necessary experience and qualifications," the lawsuit states, "but their requests were dismissed and rejected because Plaintiffs were not white."

Two other United flight attendants sued the airline in 2020 for allegedly staffing teams' flights with "young, white, female, and predominately blond/blue-eyed" flight attendants. The case was settled out of court in March 2021.

That led the way for Todd and Quesada to become members of the Dodgers charter flight program, according to the current lawsuit, but only "after extensive interviews."

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According to the lawsuit, "things changed again in 2022 when several white United flight attendants were added to the 'dedicated crew.' But, unlike Todd and Quezada, these white United flight attendants did not have to interview for these coveted positions. ...

"Instead, these white flight attendants were blatantly selected by United's management ... because of how they looked: they are white, young, thin women who are predominately blond and blue-eyed. When Todd and Quezada asked United why certain flight attendants were added ... without having to interview like they did, Todd and Quezada were told that these white flight attendants fit a 'certain look' that the Dodgers players liked."

The lawsuit states that Todd and Quezada started receiving fewer assignments to Dodgers flights ended up being demoted within the program, and Quezada eventually was removed "without any justification."

Todd and Quezada are seeking a jury trial and an unspecified amount in damages.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.