The Philadelphia NAACP says in a federal lawsuit filed against US Airways that the airline generally assigned its African-American employees to areas in Philadelphia International Airport that were given code names such as “Compton,” “Camden” and “The Ghetto.”
The suit, filed Tuesday by attorneys Brian and David Mildenberg, alleges racial discrimination and segregation against the airline’s African-American employees and was filed on behalf of three former workers.
“Each of our clients has explained that they were demoralized by their working experience with US Airways as a result of the practices described in the complaint,” said Brian Mildenberg.
The suit alleges that black employees were disproportionately assigned to terminals that saw a higher percentage of black travelers, such as terminals C and F, which serve commuter and other domestic flights.
White workers were assigned for certain shifts, “especially in the international terminals and for business flights,” which generally attract more white travelers, according to the suit. Those areas had nicknames such as “Frankford,” “South Philly,” and “King of Prussia,” the suit alleges.
Mildenberg said they are seeking to have the court certify the suit as a class-action lawsuit.
Tiffany Salters, 33, of Sicklerville, N.J., one of the former employees, worked for U.S. Airways from May 2001 to June 2003. She returned in June 2007, as a customer-service manager after US Airways merged with America West.
“After the merger there just seemed to be a lot of racial tension,” Salters said.
When she complained about the code names given to working areas, bosses “just shrugged off” the complaints, she said.
She said management believed that because she was secretary of the Camden County NAACP at the time, she had “instigated” complaints by other black employees. She said she had nothing to do with the complaints.
She was fired in November 2007, for a “breach of security” for which she said she was not responsible.
The two other plaintiffs named in the suit were also fired.
Morgan Durrant, a spokesman for US Airways, said last night that they were aware of the lawsuit. “We have zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind and intend to fully, carefully and thoroughly investigate any allegations to the contrary,” he said.