These Airlines Have Diversity ‘Representation’ Goals. Here’s Why They Might Be Illegal

(Photo by STR/JIJI PRESS/AFP via Getty Images)

Daily Caller News Foundation logo
Brandon Poulter Contributor
Font Size:

Several major airlines and one aircraft manufacturer that promote diversity “representation” goals on their websites may be in violation of civil rights laws, according to several legal experts.

Following a door flying off of a Boeing 737-9 Max jet mid-flight, as well as the grounding of more than 170 planes, airlines and airplane manufacturers have been in the spotlight, with some asking if diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) measures may have contributed to the recent incidents. A review of Boeing and several major airlines, including Southwest Airlines, American Airlines and United Airlines, revealed that they focus heavily on what appear to be racial quotas, and legal experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation they may be in violation of Civil Rights laws. Claudine Gay Had A History Of Adding To Harvard’s Diversity Bureaucracy Before Stepping Up To The Presidency)

‘Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires covered employers to make employment decisions without regard to race. The language excerpted here suggests that these employers are relying on race to make hiring decisions, and that raises concerns for me about Title VII violations,” Alison Somin, a legal fellow for Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), a public interest law firm, told the DCNF.

PORTLAND, OREGON – JANUARY 8: A plastic sheet covers an area of the fuselage of the Alaska Airlines N704AL Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft outside a hangar at Portland International Airport on January 8, 2024 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Mathieu Lewis-Rolland/Getty Images)

Conservative influencers, as well as billionaire Elon Musk, have drawn attention following the Boeing incident to the proliferation of DEI policies at airlines and the airplane manufacturer.

“We set a goal to increase the Black representation rate in the U.S. by 20% over our baseline of 6.4%. Since that time, Black representation has increased to 7.1%, signifying a rate increase of 11%,” Boeing’s 2023 DEI report reads.

The Boeing webpage also boasts about increasing representation “for women and U.S. racial/ethnic minorities,” and mentions that women and minorities are underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. The webpage also says that the company is committed to “improving our own diversity.”

“Although some of the language quoted sounds vague and aspirational, I’m concerned that the reference to ‘targets’ is a euphemism for ‘quotas’ and suggests that individuals from certain racial and ethnic backgrounds are receiving preferential treatment in employment decisions. Such preferential treatment would violate Title VI’s prohibition on racial discrimination by federal funding recipients,” Somin told the DCNF.

GianCarlo Canaparo, senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, also said that giving preference to minority applicants through explicit racial quotas would put Boeing in violation of the law.

Southwest Airlines set a goal of “doubling the percentage of racial diversity and increasing gender diversity” in its Senior Management Committee by 2025, compared to July 2020, according to its DEI webpage.

“Any use of race-based or gender-based criteria by Southwest Airlines in connection with any condition of employment with the airline, however well-intentioned, would violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” Angela Morabito, Defense of Freedom Institute spokesperson, told the DCNF.

United Airlines signed an International Air Transport Association 25by2025 Pledge and “committed to increase the number of women in senior positions and underrepresented areas by a minimum of 25% by 2025,” according to their website.

United Airlines previously announced in April 2021 that they intend to train more women and minority pilots in a statement.

“Our flight deck should reflect the diverse group of people on board our planes every day. That’s why we plan for 50% of the 5,000 pilots we train in the next decade to be women or people of color,” the statement reads.

American Airlines also advertises “representation” and diversity goals on its website. “In January, we set goals around Black representation and retention, and we met those goals by December: Increased Black representation at the director and above level by 50% versus 2020,” the airline wrote on its website in January 2022.

Their website also advertised that it had increased its L5 and L6 black representation by 20% from 2020 to January 2022. “The Civil Rights Act expressly prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and nation of origin. These airline statements refer to things such as ‘industry averages’ and diversity goals, even listing percentages of certain hires based on race or sex—which sound like racial quotas and would be in violation of civil rights laws,” Jonathan Butcher, education fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Education Policy, told the DCNF.

Following the 737-9 Max incident, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced an audit of the airplane manufacturing company as well as suppliers for the aircraft, according to the FAA’s website. It was recently revealed that as part of its DEI initiatives, the FAA is seeking to employ individuals with “severe intellectual” disabilities and “psychiatric” disabilities.

“The main focus of airline DEI programs is promoting so-called racial ‘representation goals.’ In other words, racial discrimination that puts woke ideology above safety,” Will Hild, executive director of Consumers’ Research, a consumer products and policy nonprofit, told the DCNF.

American Airlines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Boeing did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comments.

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact