Posted on November 9, 2010

NAACP Voluntarily Dismisses Bias Suit Against US Airways

Linda Loyd, Philadeophia Inquirer, November 9, 2010

What began as a startling NAACP suit accusing US Airways Group Inc. of discriminating against its African American employees at Philadelphia International Airport has ended with a settlement and a pledge by the airport’s largest carrier to strengthen workplace diversity.

On the matter of the monetary terms and whether the three former US Airways employees named as plaintiffs in January’s federal class-action suit would get–or even want–their old jobs back, no one would say.

The case before U.S. District Judge Petrese Tucker was voluntarily dismissed Friday, the same day the NAACP and US Airways issued a joint statement that the airline would continue a “strong commitment” to diversity and equal opportunity and would work with the NAACP to enhance its workplace-diversity programs at the Philadelphia airport and at Reagan National Airport in Washington.

In the statement, the NAACP and US Airways pledged to collaborate at the two airports on equal-opportunity programs, training, personnel, policies, and procedures, and to “maintain a direct dialogue” in the future.


US Airways’ human-resources staff in Tempe, Ariz., and the Philadelphia NAACP will work “closely” together, Lehmacher said.

“The NAACP is very pleased that US Airways has agreed to work with us,” Philadelphia NAACP president J. Whyatt Mondesire said Monday. {snip}

The NAACP settled the case on behalf of “60-odd people that we represented, most of them here, but a couple in D.C.,” Mondesire said. {snip}

In the future, US Airways workers with diversity complaints can contact the Philadelphia NAACP, which will discuss the cases with airline human-resources personnel, he said.


The lawsuit, filed Jan. 5, alleged a “pervasive and severe hostile working environment” for African American US Airways employees at Philadelphia airport and claimed that blacks were discriminated against in hiring, termination, discipline, promotion, and benefits, as well as gate, terminal, and ticket-counter assignments based on color.

The NAACP alleged that US Airways managers referred to airport terminals where African Americans were predominantly assigned by derogatory code names, such as “Compton” or “Camden” in Terminal C–references to communities composed primarily of minorities–and “The Ghetto” in Terminal F.

Areas with more white employees were called “Frankford/South Philly” in Terminal B, and “King of Prussia” at international Terminals A-West and A-East, the lawsuit said.


“We are definitely a diverse airline, I can say that,” Lehmacher said. “But we would not talk about the specific breakdown by ethnicity.”


[Editor’s Note: An earlier story on this lawsuit can be read here.]