Flight attendant sues airline that fired her for being ‘too big’ for jump seat

A fired flight attendant told to fit into a “too small” jump seat is suing her former employer, Spirit Airlines, on the grounds of racial discrimination.

The lawsuit was filed in District Court for South Florida on November 16 by Chelsia Blackmon, who is demanding an unspecified amount in compensation to cover back pay, compensatory damages, and punitive damages. 

Ms Blackmon, who is a Black woman, had completed the low cost American airline’s flight attendant training course, during which she was asked to demonstrate that she could strap herself into a jump seat. These seats are used onboard a plane for flight attendants to sit on during take-off and landing, and they feature a four-point safety harness.

While Ms Blackmon was able to show that she could fit the jump seat at this training stage, during a flight on September 2021 she said she couldn’t click the safety harness shut. Because flight attendants are not allowed to use seatbelt extenders on jump seats, Ms Blackmon had to disembark the plane and did not work on that particular journey.

As reported byPaddle Your Own Kanoo, Ms Blackmon “was then placed on administrative leave and following a short investigation, the airline demanded that she be able to prove she could fit in a flight attendant jump seat.”

A month later Ms Blackmon was allegedly asked to secure herself in a jump seat which was “too small for her.”

While Ms Blackmon does not challenge Spirit’s right to sack her over her size, she claims the move was discriminatory as a white colleague in the same situation was given more time to fit into her jump seat.

Accusing Spirit of giving her less time to fit the jump seat due to her race, Ms Blackmon has called this move “wilful and malicious”, as well as showing “reckless disregard” for her civil rights.

She claims her dismissal was in violation of the federal Civil Rights Act and the Florida Civil Rights Act.

The Independent has contacted Spirit Airlines for comment.

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