New York, Sept. 17 (PTI): A Sikh businessman has filed a lawsuit against a major airline, its affiliate and a flight attendant alleging racial profiling, intimidation and harassment during a commercial flight for sporting a beard and a turban.
This is first such lawsuit to be filed by a Sikh American though several were targeted after the September 11 attacks in the mistaken belief that they were followers of Osama bin Laden.
In the lawsuit, India-born Hansdip S. Bindra, 34, charged that Delta Airlines, its affiliate Atlantic Coast Airlines and flight attendant Janet Thomas violated his civil rights on a flight in November 2002.
The suit, filed in a court in Newark in New Jersey yesterday, said that Bindra, a software consultant, boarded a Newark flight bound for Dayton, Ohio.
Bindra alleged that Janet berated him and referred to him as a Middle Eastern man when he retook his seat after retrieving a magazine from the overhead bin.
When he tried to explain that he was a Sikh and not Middle Eastern, Janet told him to “shut up” and “not cause any problems.”
Bindra claimed the flight attendant said she felt threatened by him and was going to ask the captain to take the aircraft back to the gate so that Bindra could be removed by agents. But the plane completed the journey.
Janet was the only flight attendant on the plane. She has left Atlantic Coast Airlines since then and reports quoted its spokesman saying that she was disciplined.