A former Southwest Airlines employee is suing the carrier for discrimination, saying the airline allowed workers to create a “whites only” break room inside Houston’s Hobby Airport.
In a lawsuit filed Wednesday, Jamel Parker claims the break room was used for many years until recent renovations at the airport turned it into a supervisor’s office. Parker also alleges he was unjustly fired because of his race.
Southwest Airlines declined to comment on the pending litigation but said it’s an equal opportunity employer that puts its people first.
“We work relentlessly to foster an environment that is diverse and inclusive,” the airline said in a statement. “We do not tolerate or condone discrimination of any kind, and we cultivate a workplace that mirrors the customers we serve.”
According to the complaint, Parker learned of the so-called “WB” shortly after he started working for the airline in 2013. He claimed Black employees once found a noose made of bungee cords at a Southwest gate at the airport that remained in place for the four years he worked for the airline.
Moreover, he said Black employees were held to a higher standard than their white counterparts and faced “extreme race discrimination.”
The ex-employee said he was booted by the carrier in 2017 after he ran over a power cord and didn’t report it to his superiors. He cited two similar cases where white employees were disciplined, but not fired.
“Southwest is quick to fire Blacks while whites are given lesser discipline and chances to improve conduct,” the lawsuit reads.
The suit is seeking an unspecified amount in damages, according to CNN. A pretrial and scheduling hearing is set for January 2019 in Houston.