HomeAsian AmericansDelta fined $50,000 for alleged discrimination against Muslims

Delta fined $50,000 for alleged discrimination against Muslims

(Photo by Julian Herzog/Creative Commons)

The U.S. Department of Transportation fined Delta Air Lines $50,000 fine for two cases of discrimination against Muslim passengers on Friday.

The two alleged incidents took place in 2016. The Council on American-Islamic Relations requested a federal investigation into one of them, involving a U.S. couple of Pakistani descent, according to The Philadelphia Tribune. The passengers, Faisal and Nazia Ali, were headed home to Cincinnati after a trip to Paris, when a passenger told a flight attendant that their behavior made them “nervous.”

Flight attendants claimed that Faisal was acting suspiciously, sweating and hiding his cell phone. They reported the couple to the captain who then had the Alis get off the plane to take an alternative flight. The couple was cleared by a security officer.

However, the captain refused to allow them back on the flight “because the flight attendants were not comfortable” having them onboard,” the Philadelphia Tribune reported. The couple was later able to board another flight the next day without further security screening.

The second instance involved a “Mr. A,” where a similar situation occurred, with passengers and airline employees reported suspicious behavior, and the captain had him removed and put on a later flight, according to Delta’s consent order.

In both instances, the passengers’ records had “no red flags.”

“Delta disagrees with the Department’s contention that it engaged in discriminatory conduct. While Delta does not dispute that each of these two incidents could have been handled differently, Delta asserts that this fact does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that Delta acted improperly,” Delta responded in the consent order.

The airline added that it “asserts that it has learned from the two incidents at issue here, and has improved its processes because of them.”

The Department of Transportation ordered the airline to revamp their service training and have employees retake such classes, including civil rights training, the consent order states.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations applauded the decision.

“We welcome this decision by the Department of Transportation, which determined that our clients’ removal from the flight was discriminatory and based on their perceived religion,” said CAIR-Ohio Civil Rights Attorney Sana Hassan in a statement. “We hope that this DOT order sends a message not just to Delta, but to all airlines, that discriminatory treatment of passengers on the basis of their race, religion and national origin is illegal and will not be tolerated.”

She added that the organization has a “Know Your Rights” pamphlet in multiple languages — including English, Arabic, Somali, Urdu, Farsi, Bengali, and Bosnian — for these situations.

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