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Thursday, May 30, 2024 | Back issues
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First-Class Passengers Call US Airways Racist

LOS ANGELES (CN) - US Airways refused to honor two black men's first-class tickets unless they removed their baseball caps, changed from jeans into slacks and put on button-up shirts, the men say in a federal discrimination complaint.

MacCraig Warren of Compton and Miles Warren of Long Beach seek punitive damages for four counts of discrimination and emotional distress.

They also want the airline enjoined from doing it again.

The Warrens claim they had first-class tickets from Denver to Los Angeles when US Airways rejected them in August 2012.

They say an unidentified ticket counter employee told them they would have to change clothes to sit in first class.

"Doe employee informed plaintiffs that it was US Airways policy that everyone in first class is required to wear slacks, button up shirts and no baseball caps. Doe employee demanded plaintiffs to change from jeans into slacks, a button-up shirt and told plaintiffs to remove their baseball caps," the complaint states.

Mac Warren says he changed near the ticket counter. Miles says he went to a restroom to change.

In the restroom, Miles spoke to a white passenger, (nonparty) Michael Heffernan, who told him he was worried "that he would not be able to catch the flight because he was in first class as well and had on jeans and a hooded sweatshirt," according to the complaint.

The Warrens say they boarded the flight to find Heffernan sitting in first class.

"Much to plaintiffs' amazement, Heffernan was sitting in first class wearing jeans and a hooded sweatshirt, not the 'required' slacks and button up shirt," according to the complaint.

Heffernan was traveling with his Filipino friend, (nonparty) Edward DeLeon, who was dressed in rolled-up jeans, no socks on, and a hooded sweatshirt, according to the complaint.

"Heffernan and DeLeon were not instructed to change their clothes prior to boarding, nor at any time during the flight," the Warrens claim.

After their plane landed in Los Angeles, Heffernan and DeLeon told the plaintiffs that US Airways never told them that "it was 'policy' or that they were 'required' to change clothes prior to boarding the plane," the complaint states.

The Warrens are represented by Robert McNeill with Ivie, McNeill & Wyatt.

US Airways could not immediately be reached for comment after business hours Thursday.

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