NCAPA and 25 Organizations Urge Southwest Airlines to Review its Anti-Discrimination and Complaint Policies and Training, especially regarding Arab, Muslim, Sikh and South Asian Passengers

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

APRIL 27, 2016

 Contact: Mary Tablante;

 (202) 706-6768;

 

mary@ncapaonline.org

   

National Council of Asian Pacific Americans and 25 Organizations Urge Southwest Airlines to Review its Anti-Discrimination and Complaint Policies and Training, especially regarding Arab, Muslim, Sikh and South Asian Passengers

Today, the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) and 25 additional Asian American and Pacific Islander organizations sent a letter to Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly, urging the company to comprehensively review its practices in light of recent allegations of racial and religious profiling directed toward Arab, Muslim, and South Asian passengers.

In the last several months, there have been four well-publicized incidents involving Southwest Airlines removing Arab, Muslim and South Asian passengers from flights or preventing them  from boarding. In one incident last week, a passenger was removed from a Southwest flight after a fellow passenger reported his phone conversation in Arabic as threatening.

Recommendations include clearer procedures and training for front-line personnel to de-escalate situations; mandatory training that goes beyond diversity and cultural competency to include instruction on anti-racism and implicit bias; strong anti-profiling and anti-harassment policies; and more information for passengers who feel harassed, intimidated, or profiled to file complaints and seek recourse.

NCAPA also supported an MPower Change petition, which has more than 20,000 signatures.

Suman Raghunathan, executive director of South Asian Americans Leading Together: “As a national civil rights organization dedicated to amplifying the voices of South Asians and deeply committed to addressing racial profiling practices at the hands of government and the private sector, SAALT is deeply troubled by the multiple reports of racial profiling of Arabic speaking passengers on Southwest Airlines over the past several months. We call upon Southwest to answer the public call for accountability and at minimum, issue an apology to the passengers in question and commit to anti-bias training and policies for all their front-line employees to ensure these troubling incidents are not replicated."

Mee Moua, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC: “We are deeply concerned about the rise of incidents of discrimination against Arab, Muslim, Sikh, and South Asian air travelers. We are disappointed that Southwest Airlines continues to be among airlines engaging in racial and/or religious profiling. Southwest has a demonstrated record of community investment, and its recent actions are contrary to the Southwest Brand and the goodwill the company has built among our communities. Incidents like this should be of great concern to the corporation and its customers. We urge Southwest to address these concerns and be the industry model for how to prevent discrimination, including discrimination perpetrated by fellow passengers, and ensure that all customers are treated with respect and dignity.”

Christopher Kang, national director of NCAPA: “Profiling and discrimination undermine public safety, not enhance it, and all airlines should have strong policies in place to respond to passenger complaints that may be motivated by bias. We believe that Southwest Airlines should apologize to these passengers, but even if Southwest does not believe it is at fault, there is no reason it cannot conduct a thorough review of its policies, trainings, and procedures. Especially in this time of escalating anti-Muslim hate, our Arab, Muslim, Sikh, and South Asian communities deserve that much.”

Read the full letter here.

 

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Based in Washington, D.C., the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans is a coalition of 35 national Asian Pacific American organizations that serves to represent the interests of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities and to provide a national voice for our communities’ concerns. Our communities are the fastest growing racial/ethnic group in the United States, currently making up approximately six percent of the population.


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