Will.i.am must retract racism claim or face potential lawsuit, Qantas says

Posted at 11:20 AM, Nov 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-18 11:20:13-05

AUSTRALIA — Qantas has vowed to help a member of its cabin staff take legal action against musician Willl.i.am if the Black Eyed Peas frontman does not retract his claim that he was a victim of racial discrimination.

Will.i.am attends the 87th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 22, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Christopher Polk/Getty Images)

The rapper and producer alleged Saturday that he was targeted by an “overly aggressive” female employee during a flight from Brisbane to Sydney, after he left his laptop out.

He said on Twitter that he couldn’t hear the PA announcement instructing passengers to put away laptops and other electronics through his noise-canceling headphones.

Describing the incident, the musician told his 12.8 million Twitter followers that he was mistreated by a “#RacistFlightattendant” who was “beyond rude.”

“I don’t want to believe she (is) racist. But she has clearly aimed all her frustrations only at the people of color,” he wrote after sharing a photo and the full name of the staff member.

The singer said he was met by five police officers when the plane arrived at Sydney Airport.

“I did comply quickly and politely, only to be greeted by police,” Will.i.am wrote. “I think I was targeted.”

After initially insisting the row was a misunderstanding and rejecting any allegations of racism, Qantas has gone further and offered legal support to the member of staff involved in the dispute.

“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 spokesperson told CNN.

CNN has contacted Will.i.am’s representatives for comment on the potential legal action.

The singer said on Twitter that it was his responsibility to bring the issue to light after facing a backlash for naming and shaming the employee.

“I am in the public eye & I behave even when I have a bad day…my mother raised me to be polite & treat people with respect…being a public figure puts extra guards rails so I stay polite & serve…everyone should operate with respect. especially people who serve the public”

The star added in an interview with Australia’s The Daily Telegraph that he didn’t want the crew member to lose her job over the incident but to “be retrained on how to deal with people.”

The Black Eyed Peas are in Australia as a part of the band’s 2019-20 world tour.