Racial Discrimination on U.S. Airways Flight? A Prickly Situation…

Deshon Marman, a football player for the University of New Mexico, recently boarded a U.S. Airways flight out of San Francisco, probably expecting a mundane trip. But a surprising series of turns placed Marman at the center of a provocative racial discrimination case

According to an Associated Press report, Marman had been wearing “saggy pants.” Airline officials asked him to pull up his pants, since he allegedly was “exposing a body part.” Marman refused, repeatedly. Ultimately, the U.S. Airways captain ordered Marman to leave the flight. He refused. The airline called the authorities. Marman was arrested and charged with “trespassing, battery of a police officer and obstruction.” Prosecutors later dropped the charges.

That could easily have been the end of the story, in which case we probably would not be blogging about it. However, Marman wanted revenge. His lawyers have now accused U.S. Airways of racial discrimination: an accusation that’s stirred up fire and brimstone in the blogosphere. Consider these anonymous reader comments from www.wowt.com:

• “Debbie” wrote: “there should be a law enforcing these little thugs to pull up their pants. I am sick of the indecent exposure when out with my family.”

• “Andy” said: “there is plenty of white thug wannabes running around wearing saggy pants. No racial discrimination there.”

• “I Am Black, Too” wrote: “anything to get a few bucks from the airlines!!!”
It may be possible to find supportive comments (from Marman’s perspective) online. But the general point here is that, when we read stories about racial discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation, and workplace mistreatment, we tend to have very visceral reactions. We “know in our guts” what’s just and what’s not. We also enjoy freely dispensing this wisdom.

Our impressions about the case might be right. Or they might not be. And this can lead us into dangerous territory. If we guess “right” about a situation, no harm done.

But if we guess wrong — leap to the wrong judgment and become deaf and blind to evidence to the contrary — the consequences can be surprisingly unpleasant.

Here’s an example of how this kind of “I already know the truth, so don’t confuse me with facts” thinking can create problems. Let’s say your boss harasses you. You complain. But the boss cleverly responds by concocting a story that makes you sound like a whiner, embellisher, or even flat out liar. The facts don’t support this, obviously. But if someone in H.R. buys into the boss’s argument and then refuses to hear your counterargument (“I already know the truth, so don’t confuse me with facts!”), you may hesitate to seek a quick and just resolution to your problem and have trouble getting the behavior to stop.

All of this is to say that you need to protect yourself by getting smart, ethical representation as quickly as possible to preserve your rights, reputation, and peace of mind. Set up a free consultation with the team at Joseph & Kirschenbaum by visiting www.jhllp.com or by calling us at (212) 688-5640.