A white employee from Nebraska has lost their job after allegedly calling a flight attendant a racial slur. The company issued a statement not only distancing itself from the former employee, but unequivocally rejecting the bigoted remark.
The Omaha World-Herald reports that the person was booked on Delta Flight 5593 on Monday, Feb. 7, at 1:10 pm, leaving Eppley Airfield for New York City.
The flight was delayed over two hours and then scheduled to leave at 3:40 p.m. During the time before the boarding, a group of people went drinking at one of the airport’s bars, then got on the plane for a spirit-fueled rollicking.
Members of the boisterous cluster were wearing masks with the name and logo for an Omaha software company, Buildertrend, and went to their seats in the rear of the plane.
As the plane started to taxi, according to Laura Austin, a Creighton University graduate student who was also on the flight, a Black female flight attendant went back to address the collective, but retreated to the front of the plane “very shaken.”
Austin said the attendant shared she was asking the passengers to properly secure their masks but instead was disrespected by one of the loudmouths.
“Someone called her the N-word,” Austin said.
After the attendant reported the abusive language, the plane returned to its park and everyone was asked to leave the flight. The airport’s police were called and investigated the matter.
A spokesperson for Delta Air Lines apologized to the passengers further inconvenienced by the investigation and stated that the company has a “zero-tolerance for unruly behavior at our airports and on our flights, as nothing is more important than the safety of our customers and flight crews.”
The passengers reboarded the plane but without two of the four Buildertrend workers who made or co-signed the bigoted remarks.
The attendant still did not feel comfortable, Austin recalls, and the other two were escorted off the flight also.
Austin’s report lines up with Eppley Police Chief Tim Conahan’s account.
He said, “Our officers spoke with the Delta staff. It was determined that there were four individuals on the flight that Delta requested to be removed from the flight due to their kind of belligerent behavior, possible intoxication.”
Buildertrend CEO Dan Houghton issued a statement about the incident, revealing that the person was fired over the incident.
The statement said in part, “Buildertrend has always been and will continue to be an inclusive and principled partner to our communities, customers, and people.”
“Since learning Monday of reports involving our employees,” he continued. “We have been actively investigating the incident with internal and external parties to learn as much as possible so that we can take appropriate action.”
“We take these accounts of unacceptable behavior extremely seriously. Based on actions that do not align with Buildertrend’s values and standards of conduct, one employee has been terminated,” Houghton remarked.
Lastly, he extended his regret to the community offended by the actions of one of his former employees, “We sincerely apologize to the passengers and employees of Delta Air Lines; to our employees and customers; our partners in business and philanthropy; and to the communities we serve.”
While no criminal citations or charges were filed at this time, Delta is serious about protecting its passengers and employees from bad actors who might ruin the travel experience.
Since the pandemic, the airline has created its own no-fly list for people who refuse to comply with masking requirements. Some 1,900 people are currently on that list. They have also submitted more than 900 former passengers to the TSA to pursue civil penalties.
The company is asking Attorney General Merrick Garland, who has already worked to prosecute individuals that put flight crews and their fellow passengers at risk, to consider making a national no-fly list for cases such as this.
A national no-fly list, should it be considered, would stop any person convicted of an onboard disruption of a plane from flying on any commercial air carrier.
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