Former NBA player Eric Murdock is suing United Airlines for $10 million in relation to an incident from July 13, according to Kristen Griffith of USA Today.
In a lawsuit filed in New York Eastern District Court, Murdock, who is black, accused the white female flight attendant of "race-baiting" when Murdock attempted to switch seats on Flight 1537. He and his son were traveling from Las Vegas to Newark Airport in New Jersey following a conference. Murdock asked if he could switch his seat to an empty one in the emergency row to be with his son.
The flight attendant told Murdock the emergency row costs a premium price, but did not specify what the price is. Then, before takeoff, another passenger on the flight was going to take the seat, but instead offered it to Murdock. After Murdock switched seats, the flight attendant told him to return to his original seat because the emergency row seat must remain empty.
However, 30 minutes after that, the attendant allowed a white woman to take the seat she told Murdock who could not sit in. Brenda Williams, a black passenger on the flight and co-plaintiff in the lawsuit, asked the flight attendant why she was treating Murdock this way even though Williams herself did not know Murdock at the time of the incident.
The flight attendant allegedly screamed at Williams to mind her business and tried to take away Williams's cell phone after accusing her of recording the exchange. When the attendant was bringing drinks down the aisle later in the flight, she allegedly asked Murdock if he was "going to boycott" getting a beverage.
Murdock and Williams were escorted off the plane by security after landing and then questioned by armed TSA guards, but neither was charged with anything.
United Airlines told USA Today it could not comment on the specifics of the incident and they are looking into the allegations.
"At United, we proudly hold ourselves to the highest standards of professionalism and have zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind," the airline told USA Today.
Murdock played nine NBA seasons after playing in college at Providence. He spent time with the Bucks, Jazz, Heat, Grizzlies, Nuggets, Nets and Clippers from 1991 through 2000.