Nationwide — Mary MacCarthy, a white woman from Los Angeles, California, has filed a lawsuit against Southwest Airlines over what she claims was a case of “blatant racism” after an employee reportedly called the police on her, suspecting her of human trafficking her own 10-year-old biracial daughter.
In the lawsuit, MacCarthy claimed that she and her daughter, Moira, were “racially profiled” by a flight attendant on a Southwest Airlines flight from San Jose, California, to Denver, Colorado on October 22, 2021, according to Business Insider.
MacCarthy said they were flying to Denver after her brother, who served as a father figure to Moira, unexpectedly died at the age of 46. But upon touchdown, police officers and a Southwest representative stopped them, suspecting them of human trafficking.
“Unbeknownst to MacCarthy, while they were in the air, a Southwest employee called the Denver Police Department to report MacCarthy for suspected child trafficking for no reason other than the different color of her daughter’s skin from her own,” the lawsuit states.
Police questioned both the mother and daughter, who were very upset. They were eventually allowed to go without charges. But the incident caused them a lot of “extreme emotional distress.”
According to a police report, the flight attendant thought it was strange that the mother and daughter didn’t talk much during the flight. However, MacCarthy denies this, saying they did talk and her daughter was listening to an audiobook.
Southwest Airlines hasn’t said much about the lawsuit, but MacCarthy’s lawyer hopes the lawsuit prompts Southwest Airlines to review their training and policies related to identifying potential human trafficking situations.
Moreover, MacCarthy said that she’s always worried about being judged when she’s out with her daughter, especially at airports. She says it’s tiring to be so cautious about everything they do together.
As for her daughter, she still doesn’t like talking about what happened. MacCarthy is requesting economic damages, compensatory damages, as well as punitive and exemplary damages to make up for what they went through.