Cacilie Hughes has been identified as the 31-year-old woman who was allegedly called a “shining monkey” by a United Airlines employee.
According to reports, Hughes — a 31-year-old actress — was verbally abused by United Airlines employee Carmella Davano while at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas, on Tuesday, February 26.
Hughes claims that Davano called her a “monkey”, “shining monkey”, and said to stop looking at her with her “monkey face.”
Court documents obtained by the New York Times state that witnesses in the terminal unsuccessfully attempted to intervene.
Furthermore, the lawsuit states that Hughes asked another United Airlines employee to call the authorities, but that employee did not comply with her request, forcing Hughes to call the police herself.
Hughes, who was returning home to the Houston area following a women’s empowerment speaking engagement at Michigan college, said that the incident left her feeling humiliated.
“I was humiliated. I was crying and I was the only black woman in the area,” she told the New York Times.
In an official statement, United Airlines claimed to uphold a “zero tolerance” policy when it comes to racism and discrimination.
“At United, we proudly hold ourselves to the highest standards of professionalism and have zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind,” the statement begins. “We have withheld the employee from service since the night of the incident pending an internal investigation. Upon conclusion of the investigation, we will take any and all appropriate corrective action up to and including termination.”
Davano, who could not be reached for comment, has not returned to work with United Airlines following the incident.
Hughes, the co-founder and vice president of the Big Sister Little Sister Mentoring Program, made a brief appearance in the 2015 Will Smith film Focus