- CHARITY BENEFIT
Financial planner Malinda Knowles made national news when she stepped onto a plane wearing short shorts. She was harassed, kicked off and the press has manipulated her story. Malinda came to T2C to set the story straight.
T2C: What do you want to get out to the public as to what happened?
Malinda Knowles: This is every woman’s nightmare. It could happen to anyone. I have been a loyal customer to Jet Blue. It was my sole means of plane travel and I used the company 3-4 times a year.
T2C: Take us through the day?
MK: I was flying from LaGuardia to Fort Lauderdale. I rolled out of bed at 4AM rushing to get to the airport in 98 degrees of record heat. Flight was to leave at 6AM. Went through security check points and went through the plane check on process. I boarded the flight without a problem. Sat down and was waiting for the flight to take off and was drinking my Orange Juice. A man with an ID card approached me and in a low tone said “I don’t want to see your panties or anything but do you have any on?” I asked his name and he wouldn’t respond. I saw the name tag so I typed his name Victor Rodriguez in my phone. He kept asking me to lift up my tray table and make him more comfortable about what I had on. I was made severely uncomfortable. I lifted the tray table, showed him my shorts and he took his walkie talkie and used it to point to my private parts and demanded to see. I was so embarrassed. Then he asked me to come off the plane with him. I did not feel comfortable to go anywhere with him. Then he went and got the airline security and they escorted me off the plane. As I was walking down the isle, the security office stated to Mr. Rodriguez “Oh she has shorts on,” they led me to the area between the plane and the terminal, where the officer again told Mr. Rodriguez, “I did have shorts on” and still they demanded to take a police report. I asked why and their response was “we just have to do that.” I had to walk back onto the plane to get my ID. The flight was now delayed so the passengers were none too happy about the reason; my shorts. We filled out paper work and again I got back onto the flight and was told that the flight would now take off. This had taken around 45 min. After about 15 more minutes, Mr. Rodriguez came back to me and said he needed to see me off the plane again. When I got off the plane Mr. Rodriguez asked if I had any luggage. When I ask why, I was told the pilot does not want to fly you today. As I was escorted off, one of the passengers stated that I should get a lawyer. I was escorted to the Jet Blue counter and Mr. Rodriguez was at the counter. I asked what the problem was and Rodriguez stated I had not complied with the rules and booked me in the same outfit, with the same airline company to Fort Lauderdale. I ended up leaving about 4 hours later.
I had called my mother about dress code; there is no dress code on Jet Blue.
T2C: What has the airline done?
MK: Nothing, nothing was provided no rules, no dress code, no “I’m sorry,” nothing.
T2C: What have been the mental ramifications?
MK: It has caused mental anxiety and the whole situation has been highly stressful.
T2C: What have been the positive aspects?
T2C: Where do you go from here?
MK: I hired a lawyer, am in the middle of a lawsuit. It is unfortunate that a lot of negative publicity has come out, but I had to take a stand. No one should be treated like this. I wore shorts in a heat wave. I was calm. I am calm by nature and yet, I have been attacked from the black community. I am an African American woman and according to the negative responses I should have known better because of my color. I have been subject to ridicule. People love to latch onto the negative
T2C: What else is on your plate?
MK: I am and was a financial planner, but I have been working on my art and a fashion brand.
T2C: What words of wisdom do you have to impart from this experience?
MK: Stand up for your rights as a woman and stick up for others when they are being discriminated against. This is not a color issue but a human issue.