United Airlines employee, Carmella Davano, continuously yelled racial slurs at actress Cacilie Hughes, while other customers watched. Davano called her a “shining monkey,” according to the woman’s attorneys and court documents.
Hughes was returning home to Houston late February after speaking on women’s empowerment at a Michigan university. It was there she encountered Carmella Davano while she waited for her luggage to arrive. The actress asked Davano for a “refund code,” prompting the woman to go off at United’s terminal inside George Bush Intercontinental Airport and call her a “monkey” and a “shining monkey,” Hughes told the New York Times.
“I was humiliated,” the actress told the newspaper. “I was crying and I was the only black woman in the area.”
There were two people who witnessed the incident and they said they saw and heard Carmella Davano abuse Hughes, according to Houston police.
Hughes’ attorneys, Benjamin Crump, and Jasmine Rand held a press conference on Tuesday regarding the alleged incident. Cacilie Hughes asked another United Airlines employee to call the police and the request was denied. She ended up calling the authorities herself. Davano was later criminally charged with disorderly conduct for using a racial slur, Crump and Rand said.
United Airlines also issued a statement: “At United, we proudly hold ourselves to the highest standards of professionalism and have zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind. We have withheld the employee from service since the night of the incident pending an internal investigation. Upon conclusion of the investigation, we will take any and all appropriate corrective action up to and including termination.”
Ironically, this isn’t the first time Carmella Davano has gotten in trouble with the law regarding her use of profanity and engaging in obscene behavior. One month prior to this incident, Houston police issued the woman a citation for virtually the same behavior.
The executive leadership is made up of 24 members including 1 Black man, 1 Latino, 5 women (no women of color), and the rest white men. Creating an environment where diversity and differences are appreciated starts at the top. It looks like United Airlines has some work to do.