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Passengers forced to change clothes on Denver flight file lawsuit

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U.S. Airways insists it was enforcing an airline policy when it made two African American passengers change clothes in order to sit in its first class section (Photo: WPIX)

U.S. Airways insists it was enforcing an airline policy when it made two African American passengers change clothes in order to sit in its first class section (Photo: WPIX)

DENVER — A pair of African American passengers traveling from Denver to Los Angeles have filed a discrimination lawsuit against U.S. Airways after the airline forced them to change clothes in order to fly first class.

After agreeing to do so and taking their seats, brothers Miles and MacCraig Warren saw a white and a Filipino passenger both wearing jeans and a hooded sweatshirt — the same attire the Warren’s had been wearing prior to boarding.

“They were very upset when they saw the other two gentlemen sitting right across from them,” the brothers’ lawyer Rodney Diggs told the New York Daily News. “This is definitely racial discrimination and a violation of their civil rights.”

The brothers filed a lawsuit in federal court this week, seeking damages for discrimination and emotional distress. U.S. Airways appears to be gearing up to meet them in court.

“We welcome customers of all ethnicities and backgrounds and do not tolerate discrimination of any kind,” Todd Lehmacher, a spokesperson for U.S. Airways, said in a statement. “We take these allegations seriously,”

As it turns out, the Warren brothers had not paid full price for their first class tickets, but rather were provided with the premium seats thanks to a buddy pass given to them by a family friend, who is a U.S. Airways employee. The white and Filipino passenger had both paid full price for their first class tickets.

It is not unusual for airlines to require require employees and other “non-revenue” passengers to adhere to a dress code when utilizing a discounted fare. Diggs said his clients were unaware of the policy, but Lehmacher said U.S. Airways employees are trained to instruct all buddy pass recipients of the airlines’ policies.

“Employees are aware of the travel policy and required to understand the expectations when utilizing their pass privileges,” Lehmacher said.

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