NAACP wants city to help in probe of alleged discrimination by S - KMOV.com

NAACP wants city to help in probe of alleged discrimination by Southwest Airlines

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(Credit: St. Louis Lambert International Airport) (Credit: St. Louis Lambert International Airport)
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

The NAACP wants St. Louis City to help it get to the bottom of alleged racial discrimination by Southwest Airlines in St. Louis, but the city’s hands may be tied.

In 2017, the NAACP says it received complaints about unfair treatment of black employees by Southwest.

Trisha Anderson was one of many former Southwest employees who testified before the city's Transportation and Commerce Committee Thursday.

“White people are given the options to step down and transfer to another city, whereas with blacks they lose their incomes for their family, their insurance. I was without insurance for a whole year,” said Anderson.

Committee members were told of racial insults being used by other employees, inconsistent discipline or outright termination against employees based on their skin color.

The head of the St. Louis NAACP says since the city owns Lambert Airport and that Southwest is basically a tenant,  that the city should force the airline to turn over records related to discipline and termination involving employees.

City attorneys say they can’t legally force the airline to release its records.

Part of the contract Southwest has with Lambert says it will not discriminate based on race.

“There is no provision of the contract that gives City of St. Louis to compel the airline to give statistic information that Mr. Pruitt seeks,” said Julian Bush, the St. Louis City Counselor.

“If I can violate a clause of the contract and you have no ability to compel me to get the information you need to determine if I’m in violation, that clause doesn’t protect me, it doesn’t protect black people,” said Adolphus Pruitt II, President of the NAACP of St. Louis.

Southwest released the following statement:

Southwest is committed to an inclusive environment for all of its Employees. We pride ourselves on our internal Culture, but even more importantly, our goal is to provide our Employees with a workplace that is free of discrimination.   

For all of those reasons, Southwest took the concerns brought forward by the St. Louis City NAACP chapter seriously.  We acted swiftly to investigate as best we could given the limited information that we had been provided.  While we were not able to substantiate all of the issues that were raised, this process did allow us the opportunity to have open dialog with our St. Louis Employees, to reiterate our commitment to a positive work environment, and to make some necessary changes for the benefit of the Station.

One thing that the St. Louis City NAACP and Southwest have in common is our dedication to our St. Louis Employees.  We continue to work with our St. Louis Leaders to promote an inclusive environment and we remain open to listening to any concerns our Employees would like to discuss. 

As we have stated to St. Louis City NAACP President in the past, we welcome any information that he would like to share with Southwest. We are confident in the internal investigation we completed and we consider the matter closed.     

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