Patricia Banks Takes On Capital Airlines





  Patricia Banks Takes On Capital Airlines

Grace Downs Air Career School
Patricia Banks Takes On Capital Airlines  

Patricia Banks, age 20 of Long Island attended and graduated Manhattan's Grace Downs Air Career School's in their flight stewardesses program in 1956. The graduating class gets their first employment interview with Capital Airlines.   

Ms. Banks receives on her employment application “see again”. Capital Airlines made no further contact with Ms. Banks.

Ms. Banks contacted Capital Airlines and was not allowed a second interview. She was told Capital never re-interviewed. Ms. Banks believed that she was being discriminated against and presented her case to New York's State Commission Against Discrimination under the New York state civil rights law which was passed 1941 at the urging of Governor Tom Dewey.   

In March 1960, Capital Airlines was ordered to hire Miss Banks. After an informal attempt failed to persuade the airline to hire her as a flight stewardess and thereby avoid a legal order —as TWA had done two years ago when a similar complaint was filed against it. Capital not only denied discrimination against Miss Banks, but argued that New York State had no jurisdiction since Capital's home office is in Washington, D.C. 

The commission brushed both arguments aside. It found that Capital's chief hostess, who interviewed Patricia, had marked her application "B+," which means "accepted for future employment." "The chief hostess," found the commission, "changed it to 'see again' at the direction of the director of passenger service."  

The commission's conclusion: "We entertain no doubt that Miss Banks would have been re-interviewed and employed, had she been white." Since Capital does a "substantial amount of its business in the State of New York." and conducts some 22 pre-employment procedures there, the commission argued that it has jurisdiction. Capital got 30 days in which to hire Patricia Banks as a stewardess or face contempt proceedings in New York courts. Of all the major U.S. airlines, only TWA and Mohawk have hired African Americans (Negro) stewardesses: two all told. 

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