Thursday, September 18, 2003

Turban wearer claims harassment on flight

By James Pilcher
The Cincinnati Enquirer

A Sikh businessman from New Jersey is suing Delta Air Lines over treatment he received on a flight from Cincinnati to Dayton on one of Delta's affiliates.

Handrip Bindra, 34, charges that a flight attendant for Atlantic Coast Airline (ACA) harassed him because of the turban he was wearing. ACA operated the flight as part of Delta's regional network Delta Connection.

The flight attendant, Janet Thomas, was suspended after the incident Nov. 26, 2002, and no longer works for the Dulles, Va.-based airline. ACA spokesman Rick DeLisi would not comment further on the incident.

Delta spokesman John Kennedy would not comment on the suit, saying he could not speak about pending litigation. The lawsuit, filed in federal court Tuesday in Newark, N.J., seeks unspecified damages. Bindra is an India native who has lived in the United States for 16 years.

According to the suit, Thomas told passengers on the flight that Bindra would cause trouble and that he should "shut up" and "stay seated." The suit also says the flight attendant asked for help from other passengers in case Bindra did something suspicious.

The American Civil Liberties Union has sued four carriers for racial bias since the Sept. 11 attacks. Continental Airlines is named in two cases. Suits were also filed against Northwest Airlines Corp., United Airlines and American Airlines. The American case was settled.

The suit against Delta and ACA was the first of its kind filed by a Sikh.

Bloomberg News contributed. E-mail

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