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The Council on American-Islamic Relations and United Firm of Carolina Law announced the filing of a lawsuit against Delta Air Lines and Atlantic Southeast Airlines for removing two Islamic religious leaders, or imams, from a flight to a conference on Islamophobia in Charlotte, North Carolina, earlier this year after the pilot refused to fly with them on board.
CAIR and UFC Law attorneys announced the lawsuit at a news conference earlier today at Memphis International Airport in Tennessee. Interfaith leaders also took part in the news conference.
The lawsuit states in part:
“Despite having been cleared twice by TSA agents, Defendants’ pilot took the matter into his own hands when he chose to eject Plaintiffs from the flight based on arbitrary and capricious reasons, including his personal preconceived notions of race, religion, and national origin.”
According to the lawsuit, the defendants violated both a federal law preventing an air carrier from subjecting a passenger to “discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, or ancestry” and a Tennessee law that prohibits denying an individual the “full and equal enjoyment of the… advantages and accommodations of a place of public accommodation… on the grounds of race, creed, color, religion, sex, age, or national origin.”
The lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction that would prohibit the defendants from “singling out passengers for mistreatment based on their perceived race, color, ethnicity, religion, alienage, ancestry, and/or national origin” and order them to “take all affirmative steps necessary to remedy the effects of the illegal, discriminatory conduct described herein and to prevent similar occurrences in the future.” It also seeks attorneys’ fees and compensatory and punitive damages against Delta and Atlantic Southeast Airlines “in an amount to be determined at trial.”