HOUSTON – A Harris County man alleges in a federal lawsuit that Southwest Airlines subjected him and other black employees to “extreme” race discrimination, claiming the Dallas-based low-cost carrier turned a blind eye to the existence of a segregated break room.
Jamel Parker filed the suit against Southwest on Sept. 19 in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas. Southwest employed Parker as a ramp agent from July 1, 2013 to Apr. 28, 2017.
Court papers accuse the airline of allowing its employees to create a “whites only” break room. According to the original petition, the area in question “existed for years” until the room was removed during a recent renovation.
“Southwest knew about the white break room; the existence of the segregated break room was common knowledge,” the complaint says. “Southwest failed to have the White break room removed.”
Parker also recalls black workers discovering a “noose made of bungee cords” in a gate area at William P. Hobby Airport controlled by the respondent.
“Nooses are an obvious reference to the history of lynching blacks and are hung for the purpose of intimidation and discrimination,” the suit says.
The airline fired the plaintiff last year for supposedly failing to report a damaged power cord. Court papers explain that there were white workers who committed the same infraction but were spared termination.
Consequently, Parker seeks unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial.
Julie L. St. John of the law firm Rob Wiley, P.C. in Houston serves as his lead counsel.
Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas Case No. 4:18-CV-3334