(CN) – A Florida woman claims in court she was removed from a Southwest Airlines flight after a white passenger seated next to her claimed to be allergic to black people.
In a federal lawsuit filed in Tampa on Friday, Laurena Parker, a black resident of Citrus County, Fla., claims the incident occurred after she tried to sit next to a white couple on a flight from Las Vegas to Tampa last December.
Parker says as she attempted to take an empty seat, a white woman already seated in the row started screaming and holding her nose, claiming to be allergic to black people. The white man sitting with the woman allegedly told Parker to move, using an expletive.
Parker says a Southwest flight attendant sided with the couple and called for the co-pilot to intervene.
“The co-pilot, instead of addressing the abusive Caucasian couple, commenced to lecture plaintiff, in front of all of the other passengers, about the dubious ‘fact’ that certain people are allergic to other people, and that therefore plaintiff should find another seat,” according to the complaint filed by Gil Sanchez of Black Rock Trial Lawyers in Tampa.
When Parker hesitated, the pilot, co-pilot and security escorted her off the plane, she says. During the incident, Parker says other passengers made racially charged insults toward her.
“Southwest’s crew enflamed the situation by choosing to support and comfort an obviously racist couple instead of aiding the victim of the apparent abuse,” the complaint says.
Parker is seeking unspecified damages for her racial discrimination and civil rights claims.
Earlier this year, another passenger filed a federal lawsuit against Southwest Airlines alleging racial discrimination. Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, a U.S. citizen and refugee from Iraq, claims Southwest employees removed him from a plane for speaking Arabic.
Southwest Airlines did not respond to requests by phone and email for comment.