A Pennsylvania attorney claims at least 80 African-American employees at American Airlines in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. were the victims of racial discrimination.
The allegations were made in a letter from the Philly-based Mildenberg Law Firm which was sent to United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch, asking her to investigate racial discrimination and safety violations.
The employees accuse managers at American Airlines in Philly and D.C. of using racial slurs against them, including “circus monkeys,” and the n-word. They also said the managers had offensive nicknames for areas where mostly African-Americans worked such as “jungle,” “ghetto,” “Darfur,” “black panther break room,” and “chocolate break room.”
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In addition to the racially-charged language, the employees also say the terminal they worked in had racially segregated break rooms, control rooms, teams and job assignments. They also claim the managers did not provide overtime opportunities for minority workers, enforced unfair punishment on African American workers in comparison to white workers, and refused to give African-American workers proper training, leaving them unqualified for some job opportunities.
The letter also alleges the managers only allowed white employees to use newer and safer equipment while African-American employees had to work under dangerous conditions.
“This allegation is what started our investigation into the safety practices of this airline,” the letter states. “Our clients alleged that white employees were routinely allowed by managers to reserve the best tugs, trucks, lifts and other equipment for their use, to the exclusion of black employees. Black employees have been forced to work on the unsafe equipment that is described in detail in the Safety Complaint, and which equipment both the FAA and OSHA have confirmed does not comply with federal standards.”
A spokesperson for American Airlines denied the allegations of racism in a written statement to NBC10.
“Diversity and inclusion are fundamental to our airline,” the spokesperson wrote. “Ours is a diverse workforce serving customers who are equally diverse, and we are committed to fostering a work environment that is based on collaborative teamwork and mutual respect. We will vigorously defend our company and the hard-working employees who provide top-quality service to our customers each and every day.”
The spokesperson also responded to the allegations of safety violations.
“The safety of our customers and employees is our highest priority,” the spokesperson wrote. “The training procedures and equipment that we use have been recognized as the best in the industry and fully comply with government safety regulations.”