A former NBA player is suing United Airlines for $10 million and alleging racial discrimination after he said a flight attendant wouldn't let him sit in an exit row (UAL)

Eric Murdock

  • Former NBA player Eric Murdock has filed a lawsuit against United Airlines and a flight attendant, alleging “racial discrimination and wrongful profiling” after an in-flight altercation over the summer.
  • Murdock, 50, a former first-round pick who played in the NBA from 1991 until 2000, has accused United Airlines of “race-baiting” him when he tried to switch seats on United Flight 1537 from Las Vegas to Newark on July 13, 2018. 
  • According to court documents obtained by Business Insider, the incident stems from a disagreement over an empty exit-row seat, where Murdock and Brenda Williams, a fellow passenger and the second plaintiff named in the complaint, allege they “were discriminated against, harassed, and humiliated” by one of United’s flight attendants. 

Former NBA player Eric Murdock has filed a lawsuit against United Airlines and a flight attendant, alleging “racial discrimination and wrongful profiling” after an in-flight altercation over the summer.

Murdock, 50, has accused United Airlines of “race-baiting” him following an altercation with a flight attendant over an exit-row seat on United Flight 1537 from Las Vegas to Newark on July 13, 2018. 

According to court documents obtained by Business Insider, the incident stems from an empty exit-row seat, where Murdock and Brenda Williams, a fellow passenger on Flight 1537 and the second plaintiff named in the complaint, allege they “were discriminated against, harassed, and humiliated” by one of United’s flight attendants. 

Murdock, a former first-round pick who played in the NBA from 1991 until 2000, and Williams are seeking $10 million in damages. 

Read more: United accidentally sent an unfinished draft of an email scolding flight attendants for not dressing properly

According to the lawsuit filed last month in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Murdock, who is black, asked a flight attendant — a white woman who was not named a defendant in the suit — prior to takeoff if he and his son could move into an exit-row seat. At the time, Murdock and his son were seated 21 rows apart.

The flight attendant told Murdock he could sit there as long as no other passenger was in the seat, the suit says. The flight attendant is also said to have informed Murdock that “there was a premium price for the seats,” which he offered to pay. 

united airlines

Court documents state that just before taking off, the exit row seat became occupied, and Murdock spoke with the passenger then sitting in the exit row seat about possibly moving. The passenger voluntarily agreed to switch seats with Murdock.

When Murdock and his son switched with the gentleman into the exit row, a second flight attendant referred to in the lawsuit as “Jane Doe” allegedly told him to return to his seat and that the exit row must remain empty. Doe is named as a co-defendant in the suit. 

Murdock and his son complied with Doe’s order and returned to their seats, the complaint noted. According to the lawsuit, about 30 minutes into the flight a white female passenger moved into the empty exit row seat. Doe not only allowed her to remain seated, but also served her drinks, the filing says. 

Murdock then sat in the other empty exit row seat next to the white female passenger. However, Doe ordered Murdock to return to his seat, the court documents say. When the plaintiff asked why the female passenger was allowed to stay, Doe allegedly said that “it was none of his business,” according to the complaint.

Upon observing this altercation, Williams, a black female passenger on the flight, allegedly asked Doe “why she was being rude” to Murdock. Court documents claim that the flight attendant screamed at Williams, accused her of recording her with a cell phone, and attempted to physically take the phone from Williams. 

Williams and Murdock did not know one another prior to the flight. 

Shortly thereafter, the complaint states, as Doe came down the aisle with the beverage cart, she asked Murdock “in a snide and condescending tone” if he wanted a beverage, or if he “was going to boycott?” but Murdock did not reply. 

That one really stuck in his craw. It’s just such an off and wrong comment,” Gary Port, the attorney representing Murdock and Williams, told Business Insider. 

The court filings say that when the flight landed at Newark Liberty International Airport, the pilot told passengers to remain seated due to “an emergency situation,” before Murdock and Williams were led off the plane by armed Transportation Security Agents. They were not detained. 

In a statement provided to Business Insider through Port, Murdock said he feared the country’s current divisive climate “encourages people to be the worst versions of themselves.” 

United Airlines did not respond to Business Insider’s request for comment, but a United spokeswoman did tell the New York Post that the company has “zero tolerance” for discrimination and would look into the allegations.

Here’s Murdock’s and Williams’ complaint in its entirety:

 

SEE ALSO: An American Airlines flight attendant is suing the airline for $1 million, accusing another crew member of assaulting her with a scarf and dragging her down the aisle

FOLLOW US: On Facebook for more car and transportation content!

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Why you shouldn’t be afraid to fly, according to a pilot with over 20 years of experience

Source: businessinsider
A former NBA player is suing United Airlines for million and alleging racial discrimination after he said a flight attendant wouldn't let him sit in an exit row (UAL)