Two Haitian immigrants who work for a cleaning company at Logan International Airport said they have been unfairly disciplined for speaking Creole on the job.
One said she was fired by the company, Flight Services & Systems, and the other said he was suspended. The two have filed complaints with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination and plan to bring their situation before board members of Logan’s operator, the Massachusetts Port Authority, at their monthly meeting Thursday.
Charles Pierre, who said he was suspended for three days for speaking Creole to a friend at the airport in late September, said he feels that Haitians are being singled out.
“I hear plenty of employees speaking Spanish to each other,” he said. “Why can’t we speak our language?”
Djovanna Dorce said she was sent home for a day, without pay, for speaking Creole at work in late spring, then fired in September after her manager overheard her speaking Creole outside his office.
Pierre and Dorce said they will appear before the Massport board with the help of SEIU Local 615, which said it is concerned with labor conditions at Logan. The SEIU said a third Haitian was fired by Flight Services & Systems and filed a complaint with the MCAD, but the commission has no record of that complaint, and the woman could not be reached for comment on the allegation.
Pierre and Dorce clean airplanes for Flight Services & Systems, which has about 400 employees at Logan. The company provides a range of services to both airlines and airports, from baggage handling to cleaning to transportation. At Logan, the company works for individual airlines, not Massport.
Lisa A.Varotsis, Flight Service & Systems’ director of airport operations for the Northeast region, said in a statement that the company is “is actively engaged in analysis of response to this charge. FSS further states that it is confident that the results of this investigation will reveal no person employed by FSS has suffered discrimination as is alleged in the charge.”
She also said Flight Services & Systems is sensitive to language issues because “80 percent of our employees speak English as a second language.”
While noting the employees do not work for Massport, spokesman Matthew Brelis said the agency “does not condone discrimination in any form, and we are eager to review the MCAD findings. The board will be interested in hearing what the workers have to say tomorrow, and Massport meets regularly with SEIU representatives to discuss their concerns.”
The allegations from the Haitian workers come just a few months after reports surfaced that the Transportation Security Administration is investigating claims that the behavioral detection program used for security purposes at Logan involved racial profiling.
D.C. Denison can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.