Delta Air Lines fined $50,000 over claims it discriminated against Muslim passengers
Delta Air Lines has been fined $50,000 by the US Transportation Department, and has been ordered to provide cultural sensitivity training to its employees following two incidents involving alleged discrimination against Muslim passengers, according to Fox News.
The DOT ruled that the airline provider was in violation of anti-bias laws after they removed three Muslim passengers from two flights after they had been cleared to fly.
In the first incident, a man and a woman wearing a headscarf were removed from a flight from Paris to the US in July of 2016, after another passenger told a flight attendant that the couple made her "very uncomfortable and nervous". The flight attendant in question then claimed that she saw the man texting "Allah" on his phone several times as she walked past the pair.
The couple, who were American citizens from Cincinnati, reportedly "raised no red flags" from Delta's corporate security office, but per a report from the DOT, the pilot ordered them off the flight for further checks.
The pair were interviewed and purportedly exhibited no "aggressive attitude", clearing them to fly again, however, the pilot refused to let them back on the plain because he said that flight attendants were uncomfortable. According to the publication, the couple flew home the next day.
The second incident occurred five days later, when a Muslim man was removed from a flight from Amsterdam to New York's Kennedy Airport. According to the DOT, the individual was removed after flight attendants saw him move from a non-window seat to a window seat, where he "looked outside the window constantly, and appeared to be perspiring."
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The captain requested that the first officer walk through the cabin for observation after flight attendants reported concern, but the officer deemed there to be "no red flags". While the pilot initially pulled away from the gate with the man on board, he decided to return, and the passenger was removed from the flight. He was later booked onto another journey and not subjected to additional screening, per the DOT.
In a statement to Fox News, Delta denied engaging in discriminatory practices, but concurred that there is room for improvement.
"As a global airline serving over 300 destinations around the world, it is our goal to model inclusion. We are built on a culture that treats all customers -- regardless of race, ethnicity, or religious affiliation -- with dignity and respect. Unlawful discrimination of any kind is not tolerated. Our commitment in this area is unwavering," the statement read.
"While we understand that our best customer service was not reflected in how the incident was handled, we disagree with the Department of Transportation's contention that Delta engaged in discriminatory conduct. For that reason, we have worked to improve our investigative process since these incidents and we have supporting programs, policies, training and procedures that back up our commitments in this area."