LOS ANGELES - A mother is suing Southwest Airlines for "blatant racism" after an airline employee allegedly assumed she was trafficking her biracial 10-year-old daughter.
Mary MacCarthy, a Los Angeles resident who is white, said traveling from San Jose to Denver for her older brother's funeral in October 2021 went awry when, shortly after landing, she and her daughter Moira were whisked away for police questioning after an airline employee flagged the duo as suspicious.
The lawsuit alleged that an airline employee called the Denver police while the duo was still en route to the destination and reported MacCarthy for suspected child trafficking. As the pair walked down the jet bridge to the terminal, police stopped them in their tracks.
"There was no basis to believe that Ms. MacCarthy was trafficking her daughter," the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Colorado last Thursday, argues.
"The only basis for the Southwest employee’s call was the belief that Ms. MacCarthy’s daughter could not possibly be her daughter because she is a biracial child," it continues.
During questioning, Moira allegedly broke down in tears, according to the suit that further accused Southwest Airlines of causing MacCarthy and her daughter "severe emotional distress" with the display of "blatant racism."
MacCarthy said the experience has made her think more deeply about being in public with her daughter, telling Newsweek in a recent interview, "To this day, when Moira and I are out in public—and especially at airports or on planes—I'm hyperaware that we might be judged and reported for any interaction we have with each other."
"It's a strange feeling to be on alert about your most basic behaviors with your child, and it's exhausting," she continued, adding that her daughter – who is now 12 – still "clams up" and doesn't want to talk about what happened that day.
Fox News Digital reached out to MacCarthy's attorney David Lane for additional comment, and he responded with the following:
"In using racial profiling to cause the Denver police to stop innocent travelers, Southwest Airlines has attempted to address the serious crime of sex-trafficking through use of a stereotypical, easy formula. Just as the police are constitutionally not permitted to stop-and-frisk young men of color based upon their race, corporate America is similarly not permitted to resort to such profiling in using law enforcement to stop and question racially diverse families simply based upon their divergent races, which is what Southwest did. The lawsuit is designed to bring some accountability to the airline and cause them to re-examine their training and policies."
Fox News Digital also reached out to Southwest Airlines, who said they have nothing to add concerning pending litigation.