Clothes, it has been said, make the man and Mark Twain tacked on an addendum in support of that observation: “Naked people have little or no influence.”
But two black customers with first-class tickets on a US Airways flight from Denver to Los Angeles maintain that race may play at least as large a role in defining “the man” as one’s attire.
Miles (from Long Beach) and MacCraig Warren (from Compton) filed suit in federal court alleging that US Airways discriminated against them last year when airline employees said they couldn’t be seated in first-class while wearing jeans, hoodies and a baseball cap, according to Courthouse News Service. So the two quickly stepped off to the side and cleaned up their act.
MacCraig changed near the ticket counter while Miles went into a nearby restroom where he shed his jeans, changed into slacks and a button-down shirt, and stowed the cap. In the restroom, Miles said in the lawsuit, he confided his plight to a white guy wearing jeans and a hoodie.
After getting on the plane, Miles Warren couldn’t help but notice that sitting in first-class with them was the white passenger, still wearing his jeans and hoodie. The passenger, Michael Heffernan, was seated next to his friend, Edward DeLeon, a Filipino wearing rolled-up jeans, no socks and a hoodie.
They had not received the same warning imparted to the Warrens, according to the lawsuit which alleges discrimination and emotional distress, and asks for punitive damages.
A spokesperson for U.S. Airways told AlterNet that initial indications are that the Warrens were held to a higher standard because they were traveling on nonrevenue tickets as part of an employee travel program.