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September 08, 2022

Man fired from pharma job after racist, homophobic rant on plane at Philly airport

Zachary Easterly, 37, allegedly assaulted an air marshal after he was kicked off the American Airlines flight on Aug. 30

Investigations Assaults
American Airlines Philly Easterly Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Zachary Easterly, 37, was kicked off an American Airlines flight at Philadelphia International Airport on Aug. 30 after he showed signs of intoxication and made racist remarks toward flight attendants and passengers. He was charged with assaulting a federal employee and fired from his job as a chemical engineer at GlaxoSmithKline.

A York County man whose drunken outburst on an American Airlines flight went viral last week has been fired by pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, which called the chemical engineer's racist and homophobic rant "reprehensible."

Zachary Easterly, 37, of Etters, was scheduled to fly to Dallas out of Philadelphia International Airport on Aug. 30. When he boarded the plane, he allegedly was intoxicated and slurring his words, according to federal court documents filed in Philadelphia.  

A flight attendant told Easterly that he needed to leave the plane and would be rebooked on the next flight because the crew was uncomfortable with his level of intoxication. Easterly allegedly pushed back, calling a crew member a racial slur, investigators said. 

A passenger's cell phone video of the incident shows Easterly complaining that he's being labeled a racist, which he denies by pointing out that his expensive, Swedish-made luggage is black. At one point, Easterly is heard admitting he was drunk. 

"You're kicking me off the plane 'cause I'm f***ing racist. I didn't do anything," Easterly said. "Yeah, I'm a little intoxicated."

The video also shows Easterly yelling at other passengers and using a homophobic slur several times before he got off the plane. As he exited the aircraft, he shouted that he hoped the plane would crash. 

When a federal air marshal arrived at the scene, Easterly allegedly "pushed him in the face" and continued to make racist comments toward an American Airlines employee, whom he threatened to kill along with her family, authorities said. Portions of the exchange were captured in a second video obtained by TMZ. The air marshal suffered bruises and scratches to his forehead, neck and right elbow before Easterly was brought to the ground and taken into custody. 

Easterly has been charged with assaulting a federal employee, which is punishable by up to a year in prison. 

GlaxoSmithKline, based in the United Kingdom, has offices in Philadelphia and Montgomery County. The company has since confirmed it fired Easterly. 

"The person's behavior was reprehensible and does not reflect our company culture," the company said in a statement obtained by TMZ. "At GSK, diversity, equity and inclusion is embraced and celebrated and we are committed in policy, principle and practice to maintaining an environment which prohibits discriminatory behavior and provides equal opportunity for all persons."