A Black woman from Edmonton, Canada believes she was discriminated against after being forced off an Air Canada flight for having noncontagious shingles.
Jeanne Lehman planned to fly out of Halifax, Nova Scotia last month when she was flagged by a flight crew member who demanded she exit the plane. Lehman was diagnosed with shingles and put on medication on April 19th by her doctor, who also determined she wasn’t contagious, regardless of her rash and swollen eyes. He cleared her for the April 22nd flight, but crew members refused to listen to the paying customer.
“She said to me, ‘You’re contagious.’ She was practically screaming it in front of everyone,” Lehman told The Insider. “I told her, ‘But I am not contagious! And even if I was, this is not the way to say it. Please don’t say this in front of everyone.’”
Eventually, Lehman was forced off of the plane and the remaining passengers were put up in a hotel and flown out on a different airbus the following day.
“I could’ve told them that I already went to see the doctor,” she said. “I could’ve even told them which medication they gave me. But no one talked to me, and no one listened to me. The flight attendant wouldn’t have done this to a white woman.”
She added, “She wouldn’t have said it so loudly in front of everyone. There is something about a woman like me that makes them think they can say that without consequence.”
Air Canada released this statement to CBC News in regards to Lehman’s accusations:
For privacy reasons we cannot provide details about individual customers, but we can confirm that once the passenger received medical clearance she was able to travel. Our priority is always the health and safety of our customers and employees, so we acted out of an abundance of caution. Regrettably, the situation resulted in inconvenience for some customers and we will be dealing with them directly.
Hear Lehman’s story below.
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Born and raised in Compton, California, Jessica Bennett began her career as an intern at The Oakland Post, and later, The Source Magazine. She went on to write for respected hip hop publications such as DJ Booth and Hip Hop DX before becoming the Urban Editor of pop culture website, Wetpaint.com. She joined Ebony as the Entertainment Editor August 2017. Bennett has interviewed such names as Vanessa Williams, Spike Lee, Tyra Banks, Forest Whitaker, Magic & Cookie Johnson and several others.