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Employees Claim Rampant Racism & Discrimination at American Airlines

Charges of segregated break rooms, unsafe working conditions and reports of managers using disturbing racial epithets have African-American American Airlines employees seeking a federal investigation.

A Philadelphia law firm claiming to represent more than 80 American Airlines employees at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) has called on U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to launch an investigation into stunning allegations of racism and discrimination at the two former US Airways hubs.

A letter to the attorney general, obtained by Philadelphia NBC affiliate WCAU, outlines jaw-dropping claims of a racially charged and hostile work environment for African-American workers at the American east coast strongholds.

Airline managers are accused of regularly referring to minority employees as “circus monkeys” and routinely using the n-word and other racial slurs at work. The law firm further claims that supervisors intentionally created a segregated work environment and then coined offensive terms to refer to the segregated work areas.

In the letter demanding a justice department investigation, attorneys allege that “black-only” work and break areas were referred to using offensive nicknames, including “the jungle,” “the ghetto,” “Darfur,” “the black panther break room” and “the chocolate break room.”

The Philadelphia-based Mildenberg Law Firm says that it was first alerted to the alleged problems at American when charges that African-American workers were being forced to use unsafe equipment came to light. Attorneys say this initial investigation led to the discovery that minority employees were also being denied proper training and career advancement, as well as being singled out for disciplinary action.

“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,” a portion of the letter to the attorney general states. “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.”

In an email to FlyerTalk, American dismissed the assertion that any employee of any race would be asked to use unsafe equipment. The airline’s official statement reads:

The safety of our customers and employees is our highest priority.  The training procedures and equipment that we use have been recognized as the best in the industry and fully comply with government safety regulations.

Likewise, diversity and inclusion are fundamental to our airline.  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 citations were changed from “Serious” to “Other than Serious” and the equipment concerns were identified and remedied immediately,” American spokesperson Victoria Lupica told FlyerTalk. “We did include our IAM representative in this process and continue to partner with them.”

[Photo: American Airlines]

Comments are Closed.
explosive0 July 23, 2015

@celsius1939, There's a chance it may be true or it may be untrue, but you seem to be jumping to a conclusion already. What's the competition here - how fast you can refuel an airplane?

celsius1939 July 21, 2015

This is the typical charge about racism. Some people cannot compete, so they claim racism.

JW76 July 21, 2015

Epitaphs? I think you mean epithets. Consider hiring a proofreader who actually speaks English.

djjaguar64 July 21, 2015

I am not surprised. AA itself has check in staff and onboard crew that exhibit racist attitudes.