Terminated employee claims airport had 'whites only' breakroom
HOUSTON (FOX 26) - In 2008, Jamel Parker began working as a ramp agent at William P. Hobby Airport for AirTran Airways. After that carrier merged with Southwest Airlines in 2013, Parker became a Southwest Airlines employee.
"He warned me about the whites only breakroom," said Parker. "He said it's just best to avoid that. Don't go in there and that's exactly what I did."
In a lawsuit Parker filed against Southwest Airlines, he claims the reason the white breakroom does not exist today is due to renovations at Hobby Airport in 2016 or 2017, that transformed the break room into a supervisors' office.
The lawsuit also claims black Southwest Airlines employees at Hobby Airport were subjected to race discrimination when a noose was hung at Gate 45, which is controlled by Southwest.
Parker said he had been terminated when the alleged noose incident took place but showed a photo of it to FOX 26 News.
"Honestly, I'm not surprised, given my initial introduction into the Houston market," added Parker. "I was literally warned about this sort of thing." said Parker.
The lawsuit said Southwest fired Parker alleging he damaged a power cord and did not report it.
However, the lawsuit claims white employees who engaged in nearly identical behavior were not terminated.
In a statement, Southwest said it couldn't comment on pending litigation but says it prides itself in being an equal opportunity employer.