(CTN News) – Earlier this week, a white mother, who was accused of human trafficking by a Southwest Airlines employee because she was traveling with her biracial daughter, filed a lawsuit against the airline, alleging racial discrimination based on the woman’s race.
The complaint alleges Mary MacCarthy was traveling with her 10-year-old daughter on a Southwest flight from California to Denver on 22 October 2021 in order to attend a funeral, according to the U.S. judicial district court for the District of Colorado.
During the process of exiting the plane at Denver international airport, when MacCarthy and her daughter were getting off the plane, two local police officers approached them immediately.
MacCarthy and her daughter were blocked by the police as they attempted to exit the jetway and enter the terminal of the airport.
In a lawsuit reviewed by the Guardian, the officers informed them that they wanted to speak with plaintiff MacCarthy and her daughter as they had been reported as suspicious by Southwest Airlines employees, and plaintiff MacCarthy was suspected of being a human trafficker.
According to the complaint, MacCarthy and her daughter were in flight when a Southwest Airlines employee reported the mother to the police.
It was only after MacCarthy provided identification and faced questioning from the police that she and her daughter were allowed to leave.
According to the lawsuit, MacCarthy and her daughter suffered “extreme emotional distress” as a result of the confrontation. It is understood that MacCarthy’s daughter cried while officers were questioning her mother, fearing that she and/or her mother might be in legal trouble for some reason.
“To this day, whenever the incident is mentioned, [the daughter] remains silent and does not speak about it,” according to the suit.
As far as the complaint against Southwest Airlines is concerned, the company declined to comment, stating that it could not discuss any pending litigation.
A spokesperson for the airline told News that the company was investigating the woman’s concerns when McCarthy was stopped.
Southwest’s spokesperson told us in 2021, “We were disheartened to learn of this mother’s account when traveling with her daughter.” In order to address the customer’s concerns and offer our apologies for her experience traveling with us, we will conduct an internal review and contact the customer.
It is alleged in the lawsuit that Southwest Airlines has a history of racially profiling mixed-race families.
Luca Guerreri, a white man traveling with his Black daughter, was taken off a plane in January 2021 for questioning after being suspected of human trafficking.
A complaint was also made by Guerreri to Southwest Airlines.
“Southwest did not take steps to correct the racist assumptions its employees make about mixed-race families traveling together,” according to the Colorado lawsuit.