Omaha-based software company Buildertrend announced it has terminated an employee who allegedly called a flight attendant the N-word while onboard a Delta Air Lines flight last Monday, Omaha World-Herald reported.
In a statement released last Wednesday, the CEO of the company, Dan Houghton, explained the fired employee’s actions “do not align with Buildertrend’s values and standards of conduct.”
Houghton also said the company was investigating the incident, adding that it was being done with “internal and external parties to learn as much as possible so that we can take appropriate action.”
“We sincerely apologize to the passengers and employees of Delta Air Lines; to our employees and customers; our partners in business and philanthropy; and to the communities we serve,” Houghton added in the statement.
The fired employee was with other Buildertrend personnel at the time of the incident. Passengers said the group had been drinking at a bar at the Eppley Airfield before boarding the New York-bound flight. The group was said to be loud even after boarding the plane, and some of them had masks with the Buildertrend logo.
A passenger onboard the flight, Laura Austin, said the Black flight attendant went to speak to the passengers in question. But she returned “very shaken.” “She told us that she asked some people to put their masks on, and someone called her the N-word,” Austin told the news outlet.
Austin said the plane was taxiing to take off when it came back to the gate. She added that passengers were then asked to exit the plane. Following an investigation by the police, Austin said “noticeably fewer” passengers from the Buildertrend group returned to the plane.
Austin also told Omaha World-Herald that a Delta official entered the plane to have a conversation with the Black flight attendant after she complained about two other people being allowed back on the plane. The flight attendant said those two people were among the four troublemakers, and she did not want to be on the same flight with them. They were subsequently removed from the plane before takeoff.
Providing more insight on the incident, Eppley Police Chief Tim Conahan said Delta officials told airport police the group refused to obey mask rules and regulations, adding that they could have possibly been under the influence of alcohol. Conahan also said the members of the group were loud and very local at a certain point.
He added a flight attendant notified officials she thought a member of that group used a racial slur against her. He said four members of the group were subsequently asked to get off the plane. Charges were, however, not filed.
Even though Houghton did not mention the use of the racial slur in the statement, he said he also shared the “frustration, disgust and concern that many have expressed in the wake of this incident.”
“This behavior does not reflect our values we hold as a company,” he added.