A Nigerian woman filed a discrimination lawsuit on Friday after she and her children were removed from a United Airlines flight due to a white passenger’s compliant over “body odor.”
According to the Houston Chronicle, Queen Obioma and her two children were traveling on a March 4 flight from Houston to San Francisco when she boarded and found a white male passenger sitting in her business class seat.
The trip was part of a three-legged flight from Nigeria to Canada, where her children attended school. The man refused to move–forcing Obioma to eventually agree to take the man’s original assigned seat. In the suit obtained by ABC News, Obioma stated that as she placed her luggage into the overhead compartment she noticed the man walked into the pilot’s cockpit.
On the way back to her seat after using the bathroom while people were still boarding the plane, Obioma was blocked in the aisle by the same passenger.
A flight attendant named Russell H. then asked Obioma to deboard, ignoring her protests to stay on the plane with her children–who were minors.
Obioma and her children were eventually removed from the flight and were told by another United worker that the pilot received a complaint about a “pungent” odor from the male passenger and asked that she be taken off the plane.
“Ms. Obioma asked [the flight attendant] what ‘pungent’ meant and he answered that she smelled,” the suit states.
“At that point, Ms. Obioma was lost, confused and disoriented. Her mind went blank and she was utterly befuddled,” the statement continues.
Five hours later, the family was rerouted on a different flight but the whole ordeal caused her children to miss scheduled school appointments and cost Obioma additional money.
“Ms. Obioma watched her minor children marched out of the aircraft like criminals, confused and perplexed and she slumped,” the lawsuit states. “She sobbed uncontrollably for a long time.”
Obioma says that she and her family were discriminated against because of their race and wants her attorney fees to be covered in addition to punitive damages. The New York Post reached out to the airline for a statement but could not receive comment because the suit was not served to the airline at the time of publication.
“United does not tolerate discrimination of any kind and will investigate this matter,” spokeswoman Kimberly Gibbs said in a statement to The Post.
Obioma’s case is just another startling addition to several high-profile discrimination incidents in America over the last month.
Last year United Airlines faced scrutiny after a video surfaced showing a Chinese man being dragged off of a flight.
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