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Lawsuit Against Wayne County Airport in Detroit Alleges Discrimination Against White Employees

A lawsuit filed against Michigan’s Wayne County Airport authority near Detroit alleges discrimination and a hostile work environment for white employees.

The lawsuit was filed by a woman named Frances Wood, a customer experience program manager, who was fired in June after working for the airport authority for nine years.

Wood believes that she was terminated for venting about how she was treated poorly because she was white. She says that she was also labeled a “racist” for recommending that two black employees who weren’t showing up to work be fired.

When she went to her supervisor Erica Donerson, a Black female and vice president of communications, about the problem employees, the lawsuit says that she was told that they “could not fire two Black females when the board was pushing for more Black employees.” Wood claims that she was told by the supervisor that she did not understand her place at work as a “white woman.”

“Upon hearing that (Wood) was dissatisfied with being discriminated against and her second-class status as a white woman within the department, Donerson immediately terminated (her),” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit accuses the airport authority of making race the top factor in “all employment decisions.” It also claims that black employees have been “immune to criticism” and white people are relegated to “second class status.”

According to a report from Detroit Free Press, the lawsuit details that white employees were called “racist” over legitimate business decisions, kept out of business meetings, and preferential treatment was given to black workers because of their race.

“The effect has been Black employees are now immune to criticism, while white employees are expected to accept their relegation to second class status or face retaliation,” the lawsuit says.

Additionally, the suit claims that the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport “regularly bypasses the top-rated bidder on contracts in favor of lower-rated minority owned businesses.”

The DFP report says that “Woods maintains in her lawsuit that while she ‘fully supports lawful efforts to encourage diversity in the workplace,’ the airport board and management ‘have crossed the line of lawful encouragement of diversity into illegal discrimination.'”

The airport has not commented, citing the pending litigation.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article said the airport was located in Detroit when, in fact, the airport is in Romulus, Michigan. 

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