Another day, another airline is accused of being racially biased.
A JetBlue flight attendant is suing the airline after claiming that she was grounded and denied pay over her hairstyle. The New York Daily News reports that Charleen Momperousse, who is African-American and Haitian, said she was about to board a flight in December 2015 when a supervisor allegedly wouldn’t let her work because of her hair and called it an “extreme mohawk.”
Although the airline’s policy bans employee with mohawk-like cuts, Momperousse said the policy is unevenly enforced and that a male colleague had a mohawk and wasn’t punished — nor was a white female colleague who “had an up-do and the sides of her hair gelled.” The 11-year JetBlue veteran says she’s being punished for the texture of her hair and has to buy weaves and wigs so she doesn’t draw attention to herself.
Momperousse’s lawyer, Chauncey Henry, says the case isn’t about race, but accepting people for who they are, telling reporters, “Who’s to say [Jet Blue] can define it as a mohawk?” The flight attendant has filed a suit in Brooklyn federal court against the airline, but it’s unclear what amount of damages she might be asking for. However, she told reporters that she’s always been respected by her colleagues and chose to speak out to help others who might be dealing with the same issue.
Charleen is allowed to fly and is no longer grounded, but she’s still not allowed to rock her mohawk.