American Airlines, lawsuit, racial discrimnation

Retired Black Judge Files Complaint Against American Airlines

Pamela Hill-Veal claims she was racially discriminated against by a flight attendant over using a bathroom in first-class.

Pamela Hill-Veal, a Black woman from Chicago, claims she suffered racial discrimination by an American Airlines’ flight attendant. The retired judge, who was flying first-class, reported being harassed by the attendant after using the plane’s first-class bathroom on Feb. 10.

The complaint, which was sent to American Airlines and obtained by NPR, detailed that Hill-Veal and her family were flying first class from Chicago to Phoenix. She was stopped by an unnamed flight attendant as she was returning to her seat from the bathroom.

“The flight attendant stopped me as I was returning to my seat and told me I ‘slammed the restroom door and I was not to do it again since passengers were sleeping on the plane,'” Hill-Veal said in an interview with NPR. She said that she never slammed any doors, but when she tried to use the restroom in first class again, the same flight attendant stopped her. 

Hill-Veal, a retired circuit court judge in Illinois, said American Airlines has contacted her to learn more about what happened.

“We strive to ensure that every customer has a positive travel experience, and we take all claims of discrimination very seriously,” the airline said in a statement to NPR.

Hill-Veal recalled to NPR the moment the flight attendant started to reprimand her.

“He began to berate me by pointing his finger at me towards my face and saying, ‘I told you not to slam the door… so from now on, you are to use the restroom in the back of the plane’ while he pointed in the direction of the restroom in coach.” 

She believes that the issue was racially motivated, because she saw other white people who were doing the same and weren’t treated the same way she was. 

Once she was leaving, Hill-Veal said the flight attendant followed her to her seat and physically tried to remove her. In the complaint, Hill-Veal said the flight attendant told her she would be arrested because he “didn’t like the way [she] talked to him,” and accused Hill-Veal of hitting him.

“This was a complete fabrication as I told him that I never hit him,” she stressed.

Hill-Veal said she’s been losing sleep after the incident and feels humiliated. “I’m still uncomfortable about flying because I don’t know what they’re going to say that I did…in an attempt to cover up for what they did during this particular time,” she said.

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