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Logan workers file discrimination case

Banner Staff
Logan workers file discrimination case
During a recent Massport meeting, Djovanna Dorce, a Logan Airport employee, explains why she filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination after she was fired on Sept. 27 for reportedly speaking Creole outside of her manager’s office. (Photo: SEIU)

Two airport workers filed complaints last week with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) alleging that one was fired and another suspended for speaking Creole while on the job.  

The two were employed by Flight Services and Systems (FSS), a contractor that provides cabin cleaning, wheelchair assistance and security services at Logan Airport.

Community groups said they worry that incidents like these may represent a larger climate of discrimination and injustice at the airport.

Bonny Saintelot, a member of the Haitian American Forum, expressed condemnation of FSS’s actions: “What happened at the airport struck me a great deal — discrimination is supposed to have ended a long time ago, but these incidents show that it is still alive at Logan Airport.”

Nesly Metayer, coordinator of the Haitian American Task Force, echoed a similar sentiment, declaring “it is unacceptable to treat workers unfairly like this in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and Massport must act swiftly to stop discriminatory practices at the airport.”

Charles Pierre is one of the two FSS employees that filed a complaint with MCAD. He was allegedly suspended for speaking Creole while working.

“While FSS has been quick to use me as a translator if there is a passenger in need, they’ve turned the tables by suspending me for speaking Haitian to my co-workers,” Pierre explains. “By filing a complaint and speaking out, I’m standing up for all workers who speak languages beyond English, showing that discrimination at work is not to be tolerated.”

These occurrences are especially disturbing in light of recent allegations of discrimination and racial profiling by Transportation Security Administration agents at Logan Airport.  In August, the New York Times reported that 32 TSA agents have come forward alleging that “the operation has become a magnet for racial profiling, targeting not only Middle Easterners but also blacks, Hispanics and other minorities.”

Djovanna Dorce said that she was fired on Sept. 27 after being overheard speaking Creole outside of her manager’s office.

Pierre claims that on the very same day he received a three-day suspension for “insubordination” after his manager saw him talking to a co-worker in Creole.

Both Djovanna and Charles say that they were unaware of the company’s “English only” policy at the airport, because it was common for other employees to speak to each other in their native languages without facing discipline.

Material from SEIU Local 615 contributed to the report.