A woman who was accused of trafficking her biracial daughter while flying Southwest in 2021 is suing the airlines involved.
Mary McCarthy, who is white, filed the suit on August 3 in Colorado. In the suit, McCarthy detailed her experience at the airport while traveling to her brother’s funeral from Los Angeles to Denver in October 2021. Her filing states that she was reported for suspected child trafficking by a Southwest employee.
“There was no basis to believe that Ms. MacCarthy was trafficking her daughter and 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,” the suit reads.
The suit went on to allege that McCarthy and her then 10-year-old daughter were confronted by Denver authorities at the Denver International Airport based on the child trafficking suspicion as she was White and her daughter was biracial. Although the pair were eventually released, the suit claims that the incident caused them emotional distress.
A Fight For Accountability
In an interview with PEOPLE shortly after the incident took place, McCarthy promised to pursue legal action against Southwest Airlines and the Denver Police.
“I want Southwest Airlines and the Denver police to be held accountable for what is undoubtedly a case of racial profiling involving a 10-year-old Black girl, who was already suffering the worst day in her life — a death in her family,” she said at the time.
David Lane, MacCarthy’s attorney, shared an official statement with the magazine where he reiterated the discriminatory nature of the case.
“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,” Lane wrote. “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.”
Southwest Airlines is yet to release an official statement regarding the lawsuit.