Former Southwest Airlines Employee Claims Co-Workers Set Up ‘Whites Only’ Break Room In Houston Airport

Jamel Parker has filed a lawsuit against the airline.

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly stands at a shareholder's meeting.
Alex Wroblewski / Getty Images

Jamel Parker has filed a lawsuit against the airline.

One Southwest Airlines employee, Jamel Parker, a resident of Harris County, is accusing the airline of “extreme race discrimination.” The lawsuit seeks an undisclosed amount of money, reports ABC 13.

Harris was fired from the company in April, 2017, for allegedly breaking a power cord without informing the airline. Parker states that, in his experience, Southwest does not treat black and white employees equally.

Parker claims “similarly situated white employees who engaged in nearly identical behavior were not terminated.”

But the firing isn’t the only reason for the lawsuit. Parker also states that there was a “whites-only” break room in Hobby Airport, which remained around for years, until a recent renovation resulted in its removal from the building. According to him, there was also something that looked like a noose someone constructed from bungee cords and left hanging at an airport gate.

In a statement from Southwest Airlines issued a week ago, the airline refrained from commenting on the specifics of the case, but reminded the public that it does take a strong stance against discrimination.

“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. We employ more than 57,000 people who provide the world’s best hospitality to our more than 120 million annual customers as they travel throughout the Southwest network. Our people are our greatest asset, and it is our goal to support our employees and our customers who come from all walks of life.”

In the document, Southwest Airlines also emphasized its inclusivity.

“We work relentlessly to foster an environment that is diverse and inclusive.”

The airline currently flies to over 100 cities in the United States, the Caribbean, and Mexico, according to their website. They run 3,800 flights per day. The CEO is Gary Kelly, who was born in San Antonio, Texas.

In another case of alleged racism having to do with an airline, American Airlines employees were recently ordered to apologize to Wale, an American rapper and record producer. Essence reports that two flight attendants said Wale wasn’t supposed to be in first class, and threatened to call the police on him on Sunday.

The rapper, whose flight that day ended up being canceled, used Twitter to call the employees out. The employees’ names, he said in the tweet, were Megumi and Don. Wale’s song, “Dig Dug (Shake It)” earned him a deal with Mark Ronson, who invited him to sign with Allido Records in 2007.