The Chicago Employment Law Blog

United Airlines Racism Suit Highlights Trouble With Lawsuits: Proof

Audrey Allen used to work in an onboard management position for United Airlines. Though we have no idea what that technically entails, it apparently involves managing something in-flight. Now, she's working in a lesser position, as a customer service representative, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

Why the switch? According to Allen's United Airlines lawsuit, it's racism and retaliation, two of the dirtiest words in employment law.

Allen was on a flight from Shanghai when an unruly passenger got physical with her. Another employee of United was supposed to step in and handle these matters, yet the employee instead apologized to the passenger. After Allen complained to her boss, and the allegedly racist employee complained about Allen, she was demoted.

Wait, where's the racism? This is likely what the jury will ask in considering Audrey Allen's United Airlines lawsuit. According to Allen, the coworker blamed the incident on her "aggressiveness," which Allen claims is an African-American stereotype. So far, the use of the word "aggressive" is what backs this claim up.

That's the problem with alleged racial discrimination cases. We're not saying Allen's case lacks merit. In fact, it sure sounds like retaliation. She's just going to need more proof. Most racists don't say, "Sorry ma'am, but I'm not going to help you because you are black." These cases typically consist of subtext and patterns of behavior.

So, what's a gal to do in these situations? If you think you've been discriminated against, do exactly what Audrey Allen did and discuss it with a lawyer. If you decide to file a lawsuit, your lawyer will seek access to additional evidence such as employee records, human resources complaints, and other paperwork that could outline a pattern of unlawful conduct by the alleged racist.

A pattern of behavior is typically what will convince a jury in cases like Audrey Allen's United Airlines lawsuit -- unless, of course, the racist coworker actually does verbalize his or her discriminatory bias.

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