Woman Accused of Trafficking Daughter Sues Southwest Airlines Over Alleged 'Blatant Racism'


A California mother filed a lawsuit against Southwest Airlines after she was accused of trafficking her biracial daughter, describing the incident as “blatant racism.”

Mary MacCarthy and her then-10-year-old daughter, Moira, had been traveling from Los Angeles, California, to Denver, Colorado, when a Southwest Airlines employee allegedly suggested to Denver police officers that something was “off” about them, MacCarthy told WFAA in an interview. MacCarthy filed her lawsuit with the U.S. District Court of Colorado on Aug. 3.

“The whole incident was based on a racist assumption about a mixed-race family,” the lawsuit from MacCarthy reads, according to the outlet. “This is the type of situation that mixed-race families and families of color face all too frequently while traveling.”

MacCarthy’s lawsuit accuses the airline and its employees of allegedly showing a “display of blatant racism” which ultimately “caused Ms. MacCarthy and her daughter extreme emotional distress,” according to the outlet.

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In October 2021, MacCarthy, a white mom whose daughter is half-Haitian, boarded a plane to Denver to attend the funeral of MacCarthy’s brother. MacCarthy was questioned by two police officers on the jet bridge once the plane had landed after some of the flight attendants allegedly expressed something seemed “suspicious,” according to the outlet.

“Ma’am. Hi. How are you? Is this your daughter?” a police officer allegedly asked MacCarthy, according to the outlet.

A Southwest Airlines employee reportedly told MacCarthy that some of the “flight attendants” had said they had noticed “something suspicious” and that they were just “following up” and not “speculating anything,” according to the outlet.

“They never issued an apology,” MacCarthy said of the incident. “Never gave this the basic dignity of addressing how serious things were.”

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The airline expressed in a statement from October 2021 that it was “disheartened” after hearing MacCarthy’s story and was “conducting a review of the situation internally.” It added it offered its “apologies” to her for her “experience” while traveling with them, according to the outlet.

MacCarthy explained her “purpose” with the lawsuit is to “raise awareness around this rampant racial profiling that the airlines” are allegedly engaging in, according to the outlet.

IJR reached out to Southwest Airlines for a statement but did not hear back by the time of publication.

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