The Mudville Gazette
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Saturday, April 26, 2003


Not kidding, not funny: American Airlines, struggling to survive a bankruptcy crisis, was attacked by President Bush's lone Democratic Cabinet member at around 4:55 PM Friday afternoon. The charge? According to Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta's department home page: (added emphasis mine)

DOT Office Charges American Airlines With Discrimination Against Passengers

The Aviation Enforcement Office of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today filed a complaint against American Airlines alleging that the carrier discriminated against passengers who were or were perceived to be of Arab, Middle Eastern or Southeast Asian descent and/or Muslim. The office charged the carrier with violating federal law that prohibits discrimination due to a person’s race, color, national origin, religion, sex, or ancestry.

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 majority of the incidents that form the basis of the complaint occurred between Sept. 11, 2001, and Dec. 31, 2001. The Aviation Enforcement Office began its investigation of American after receiving complaints directly from air travelers and reviewing American’s own incident reports documenting individuals removed from flights or who were not allowed to board their scheduled flights.

Following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, DOT issued guidance to U.S. airlines reminding them that it is illegal to target or otherwise discriminate against passengers based on their race, color, national or ethnic origin, or religion. The first such notice was issued on Sept. 21, 2001. Most of the incidents covered in the complaint filed today occurred after that date.

The Aviation Enforcement Office filed its complaint after settlement negotiations to resolve the matter proved unsuccessful. Under the complaint, American could be held liable for civil penalties of $65,000 for violations described in the complaint, plus additional penalties for other violations that may be discovered during the proceeding. The Aviation Enforcement Office is also seeking a judgment ordering American to cease and desist from engaging in discriminatory conduct in the future. The case will be heard by a DOT administrative law judge in a trial-type hearing proceeding.

Details of the complaint are available via the Internet at, docket OST-2003-15046.


Readers will note that American is struggling with bankruptcy at this time. Interesting that this claim should be brought forward now, isn't it?

Perhaps. But Mr Mineta certainly warned the president when he was appointed:

Mineta, 69, reaffirmed his allegiance to his party, declaring at the news conference: "I am a Democrat with both a small 'd' and a large one."

Mineta set conditions for accepting the job, a White House official said, insisting he would not campaign for Republicans and wanted to choose his own subordinates.

Mineta would claim a rare place in American history, apparently becoming the first Cabinet officer to jump straight from the administration of one party to the succeeding administration of another

"This man is perfectly suited for the job," Bush said at a news conference on the nominations. "It's also important to send a signal that this is an administration that recognizes talent when it sees it, regardless of political party."

Guess I don't agree with the President on everything after all.