A mother who flew from the Bay Area to Denver with her biracial daughter in 2021 has filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against Southwest Airlines.
Mary MacCarthy, who is White, alleges that a Southwest employee reported that she could potentially be trafficking her daughter, who was 10 years old at the time. MacCarthy alleges that the employee made the assumption without having any conversations with her or her daughter.
"Because of this racist assumption, the Southwest employee called the Denver Police Department and asked that officers be in Denver upon arrival," the lawsuit states.
When MacCarthy and her daughter got off the plane, the lawsuit states that they were met by two officers with the Denver Police Department. One of the officers reportedly told MacCarthy that a Southwest employee had reported her as a potential human trafficker.
MacCarthy said she was separated from her daughter, who was crying, fearing they were in trouble for some reason.
MacCarthy said she explained to the officer that they was traveling to Denver to attend her brother's funeral. She said she provided the officer identification before being let go.
MacCarthy says that the incident traumatized her daughter. The lawsuit says she refuses to speak about the ordeal when it's brought up.
"The whole incident was based on a racist assumption about a mixed‐race family," the lawsuit states. "This is the type of situation that mixed‐race families and families of color face all too frequently while traveling."
MacCarthy is demanding a jury trial in which damages can be determined.
Southwest has not commented on the lawsuit.
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