United Airlines employee accused of calling black customer a 'monkey' charged with disorderly conduct

Cacilie Hughes, left, an actress and philanthropist, was allegedly called a “monkey” by United Airlines worker Carmella Davano. (Photos: Instagram/AP)

Police in Houston, Texas have charged a United Airlines employee with disorderly conduct over an incident in which she allegedly called a black woman racial slurs.

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As the New York Times reports, court documents show that the Houston Police Department filed the misdemeanor charge against airline worker Carmella Davano in March. Davano was originally issued a citation for profane and abusive language in a public place at the time of the incident, which happened in February.

Davano is accused of calling actress and philanthropist Cacilie Hughes, who is black, a “monkey” and “shining monkey” when Hughes approached her after landing at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport.

“I walked up to the woman, Carmella, and said, ‘Hi, do you have a refund code available?’ and she started yelling at me, calling me a monkey,” Hughes, a United customer, told the Times. “I was humiliated, I was crying and I was the only black woman in the area.”

Hughes told the paper that she called the police after a second United employee refused to intervene. Two witnesses reportedly confirmed Davano’s racist abuse to arriving officers.

According to a statement from the airline, Davano is still employed, but has been “withheld” from service while the matter is investigated.

“We have withheld the employee from service since the night of the incident pending an internal investigation,” the statement reads. “Upon conclusion of the investigation, we will take any and all appropriate corrective action up to and including termination.”

The airline came under fire in February for its treatment of a wheelchair-using rodeo star flying from Wichita, Kan. And in January, the family of a teenage girl filed a lawsuit accusing its flight staff of not taking appropriate measures when she was sexually assaulted by another passenger in 2017.

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