A former Black employee at Southwest Airlines in Houston, Texas is suing after enduring what he says was an extremely racist environment created by his white co-workers. There are claims of a “white only” break room and nooses.
According to the Houston Chronicle, Jamal Parker, 31, is suing the airline. The lawsuit alleges he was “warned” that “white employees called this room ‘WB’ for ‘White Break Room.’ Parker said there was not a sign on the door, but Black employees knew of its existence. The lawsuit also alleges that Southwest Airlines knew about this room.” The room no longer exists after it was renovated to become a supervisor’s office.
In addition, Black employees found a noose made from bungee cords, which was an image that circulated on social media.
Parker was fired from Southwest Airlines in April 2017 for an offense that would likely only result in a slap on the wrist for a white worker. The Houston Chronicle reports, “He was driving a pushback, a vehicle used to push an aircraft away from a gate, when the tow bar attached to the pushback got caught on a power cable under the jet bridge. Parker did not believe he caused damage, so he didn’t report it. He was then fired for causing damage and not reporting it.” However, “Parker said his only write-up before this incident was for not wearing a seatbelt, and he received a letter of instruction, the lowest level of discipline an employee can receive.” Reportedly, there were white employees who weren’t fired for more serious infractions.
Parker told The Houston Chronicle, “You would think in 2018 it doesn’t happen, but it does.”
Southwest Airlines released a statement which read, “We do not tolerate or condone discrimination of any kind, and we cultivate a workplace that mirrors the customers we serve. Southwest Airlines is an Equal Opportunity Employer and prides itself on an open and inclusive work environment that consistently ranks among the world’s best places to work.”