It appears the airline industry can’t fix its racism problem. Southwest Airlines is the latest company to find itself in the spotlight over a long pattern of racism.
African-American Southwest employees at St. Louis Lambert International Airport complained on Thursday at a hearing of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen’s Transportation and Commerce Committee that they’ve long been the victims of workplace racism, KPLR-TV reported. The airline rents space at the city-owned airport.
“This discrimination we have documented in our report has been going on for 10 years is systemic and, at the end of the day, African-Americans, on a significant basis, have suffered serious repercussions, if not termination, as a result of it,” Adolphus Pruitt II, president of the St. Louis NAACP, told the committee.
The complaints include allegations that nooses were hung in the airport on Southwest’s ramps, as well as instances of white employees using the N-word to refer to their Black coworkers.
Southwest has been unable “to substantiate all of the issues that were raised,” the company said in a statement on Thursday. However, the airline is taking the concerns seriously, the statement continued.
Those and many other alleged incidents raise questions about the culture at Southwest. This comes on the heels of the company doing damage control after a desk agent demanded proof in May that a White female passenger prove that she was the mother of her mixed-race child before boarding a flight to Oakland.
In October, the NAACP issued a travel advisory warning African-Americans about traveling on American Airlines. The civil rights organization had been monitoring “a pattern of disturbing incidents” involving Black passengers on the airline, a statement said. Despite the national publicity and discussions that the advisory sparked, these incidents keep happen across the industry.