ADC Welcomes DOT Discrimination Charges Against American Airlines
Washington, DC — The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) warmly welcomed discrimination charges by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) against American Airlines for illegally discriminating against passengers who were removed from flights because of their perceived ethnicity. ADC was advised yesterday that the Office of Aviation Enforcement at the DOT concluded a year-long investigation into the removal of airline passengers by American Airlines by filing charges of illegal discrimination against the airline.
In June 2002, ADC joined the American-Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in filing lawsuits against American Airlines, United Airlines, and Continental Airlines alleging that the airlines engaged in the unlawful removals of Arab, Arab-American, Muslim, or South Asian passengers based on their perceived religion, ethnicity, or national origin. ADC also filed numerous complaints, and assisted others in doing so, with the DOT against the airlines for removing passengers in this unlawful manner.
According to the DOT, the allegations in the complaint concern ten individuals, mostly American citizens, who were either removed from or denied boarding on their scheduled American Airlines flights, even though they were properly ticketed and had successfully passed all security checks.
In some cases the complainants were immediately rebooked on American or another airline and not subjected to any additional screening, even though they had been removed from their original American flight as an alleged security risk. The DOT added that it was seeking a judgment ordering American to cease and desist from engaging in discriminatory conduct in the future and that the airline could be held liable for civil penalties of $65,000 plus additional penalties.
ADC expressed its gratitude and congratulations to Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta and the DOT for taking this important step, which sends the clear message that the government will not tolerate illegal discrimination against airline passengers. When this pattern of abuse emerged in the weeks following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the DOT issued stern warnings to all US airlines that this form of discrimination was “not only immoral but illegal.” The charges filed against American further underline the commitment of Secretary Mineta and the DOT to ensure that travelers are not discriminated against on the basis of their perceived race, ethnicity or religious affiliation.