Jury: “customer of size” not victim of airline bias

by Walter Olson on February 13, 2006

“A jury on Friday said Southwest Airlines did not racially discriminate against an overweight passenger when she was asked to buy a second seat on her flight.” Nadine Thompson of Exeter, N.H., CEO of a successful cosmetics company, claimed the airline applied its “customer of size” policy in a racially discriminatory manner. On Friday Joel Drake, a Southwest employee, testified that Thompson herself had “accused him of being a ‘motherf—— racist pig’ and wished that his family would die from cancer when he tried to explain the company’s policy to her. …Thompson testified that Drake was bullying her and she felt scared, so words were her only way to fight back. She said she felt cornered and powerless.” (Kathy McCormack, “Jury: Southwest didn’t discriminate against passenger”, AP/Boston Globe, Feb. 10; “Told to buy 2 seats, Exeter woman sues Southwest, claims racial discrimination”, AP/Manchester Union-Leader, Feb. 8). Earlier second-seat suits: Dec. 20, 2000, etc. More: Thompson says she won’t appeal (AP, Feb. 15).

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“Obese have right to 2 airline seats –Canada court”
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{ 7 comments }

1 Peter 02.13.06 at 1:48 pm

*DING*
You are now free to be ridiculed around the country.

2 Jeff Wykstra 02.13.06 at 2:44 pm

It’s a good thing Mr. Drake didn’t tell her, “Eenie, meenie, minie, moe; pick two seats, we gotta go!” I’m guessing Southwest employees are prohibited from using that phrase now despite their successful defense.

3 Josh 02.13.06 at 3:36 pm

Ahhh yes, we can all relate to being bullied by those big, bad, scary flight attendents and ticket agents…

This woman thinks she has what it takes to be a CEO?

And could someone please explain how this case even saw a courtroom?

4 nevins 02.13.06 at 10:24 pm

Some people just have a chip on their shoulder. This lady happens to have the race chip; everything will appear to be race related to her.

She never claimed that there was in fact any other passenger of similar or larger proportion present that Southwest did not similarly charge for a second seat.

She assumes that if confronted it can be only about one thing, race.

5 Workplace Prof Blog 02.14.06 at 9:02 am

Overweight Airline Passenger Unsuccessful with Racial Discrimination Claim

Overlawyered.com has a story about an overweight passenger who sued Southwest Airlines when it required her to buy two seats. What’s interesting about the case is that the passenger did not sue for disability discrimination, but instead brought a racial

6 Overlawyered 02.15.06 at 8:58 am

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7 Miles G 02.19.06 at 1:58 am

If this is an example of the communications skills that Ms Thompson relies on to run her cosmetics company, I can’t imagine that it will be successful for very long. Reality check, Nadine – the Alexis Carrington ‘Superbitch’ business model went out with ‘Dynasty’. Grow up.

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