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Southwest Flight Attendants May File Complaint Over Pilot's Rant

Southwest Airlines jets at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix. (October 2010 file photo.)
Southwest Airlines jets at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix. (October 2010 file photo.)

Outraged over a Southwest Airlines pilot's offensive rant that was broadcast over an air traffic control frequency this spring, and not satisfied with the airline's response, Southwest flight attendants may file a federal workplace discrimination complaint, Houston's KPRC-TV reports.

If you haven't yet heard about this incident, KPRC broke the news on Tuesday about what the unidentified male pilot was overheard saying during an almost 2-minute long tirade. He did not know, apparently, that his microphone was on and that the comments were going out over an open frequency.

As Fort Worth's Star-Telegram reports, the pilot was heard "making anti-gay comments, dropping f-bombs, and disparaging his co-workers as 'grannies' and 'grandes.' " It happened on March 25 during a flight over Texas. KPRC has the raw audio posted here. Warning: It is offensive.

The airline has apologized and says the pilot was "reprimanded, receiving a suspension without pay for a length of time. Prior to being reinstated, he underwent additional diversity education to reinforce the company's expectations for all employees to demonstrate respect for others."

But Transport Workers Union of America Local 556, which represents 9,400 Southwest flight attendants, says its members are not only "deeply disappointed and angered by the insensitive, and unprofessional comments," but are also:

"Dismayed by the response from Southwest Airlines' management.The official response from Southwest's spokespeople and leaders has only added 'insult to injury.' Calling this broadcast a 'private conversation' cannot dismiss this incident. There is no place in our workplace for any conversation that demeans, insults and discriminates against other employees."

So, the union says, "we have instructed our attorneys today to investigate the possibility of filing an EEOC [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] charge with the federal government."

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