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St. Louis Board of Aldermen hears discrimination complaints against Southwest

ST. LOUIS – Accusations of discrimination and racist behavior have been levied against Southwest Airlines at St. Louis Lambert International Airport. The discrimination complaints are being filed by African-American employees at Southwest.

Among the more serious complaints is an allegation that a white Southwest employee used the n-word to refer to black employees.

The allegations came during testimony before a St. Louis Board of Aldermen hearing of the Transportation and Commerce Committee.

Adolphus Pruitt II, president of the St. Louis NAACP, told the committee there has been ongoing discrimination and bias against black Southwest employees.

"This discrimination we have documented in our report has been going on for 10 years is systemic and, at the end of the day, African-Americans, on a significant basis, have suffered serious repercussions, if not termination, as a result of it," Pruitt said.

Trish Anderson, a former Southwest employee at Lambert, described her own experiences as an African-American employee of the airline.

"When you get the report from Mr. Pruitt, you'll find that blacks have seen nooses hung up in the airport on the ramps and the airport will say, 'We can't find them,'" she said.

Southwest Airlines released a statement Thursday, saying the company took the concerns brought forward by the St. Louis NAACP seriously and that the airline acted swiftly to investigate.

"While we were not able to substantiate all of the issues that were raised, this process did allow us the opportunity to have open dialog with our St. Louis employees to reiterate our commitment to a positive work environment and to make some necessary changes for the benefit of the station,” the statement added.

The station referred to the Southwest operation at Lambert Airport. The airline said its goal was to provide employees with a workplace free of discrimination.