Qantas has hit back against accusations a staff member on a domestic flight racially discriminated against US rapper will.i.am.
The Black Eyed Peas member was on board a flight from Brisbane to Sydney on Saturday when he called out a female air hostess on Twitter, accusing her of being “aggressive” toward him.
The musician claimed he was targeted by the flight attendant because he was “of colour” and didn’t put his laptop away fast enough because he was wearing noise cancelling headphones.
Qantas has since issued a memo to its staff, stating it had called on the famous hip hop artist to retract his statement, and it was prepared to pursue legal action if the staff member wanted.
I’m currently on a flight from Brisbane to Sydney.— will.i.am (@iamwill) November 16, 2019
I’m sorry to say me and my group have experienced they worse service due to a overly aggressive flight attendant...
I don’t want to believe she racist.
But she has clearly aimed all her frustrations only at the people of colour
“Absent a retraction, and if the crew member wanted to take the matter further, we’d certainly be willing to provide legal support for them to do this,” a spokesman told news.com.au.
Will.i.am was widely criticised for publicly identifying the employee, as many of his 12.8 million followers then bombarded her with abuse.
Qantas Australia told Yahoo News Australia the incident was “a misunderstanding on board, which seems to have been exacerbated by will.i.am wearing noise cancelling headphones and not being able to hear instructions from crew”.
“We completely reject the suggestion this had anything to do with race. We’ll be following up with will.i.am and wish him well for the rest of the tour,” a spokesperson said.
Will.i.am posted several times about the incident after arriving in Sydney, where he was met by five police officers as he entered the airport.
“This is how your (sic) greeted when you land from Brisbane to Sydney flying Qantas with a #RacistFlightattendant... She sent the police after me because I couldn’t hear the PA while making beats on the plane wearing noise canceling headphones,” he tweeted.
He also stood by his decision to publicly shame the flight attendant, claiming it was his responsibility as a public figure to hold people accountable for discrimination.
“If I did something wrong....or if I was the slightest bit rude to a FAN or a journalist during work, I would be publicly named...this is what Twitter is for...we are supposed to call out wrong doings so we can have a safer more compassionate world,” he wrote in another Tweet.
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