A former Comair flight attendant has filed suit against the airline, saying he was wrongfully fired when a co-worker suspected he was a terrorist.
Gilbert Knops filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Covington Friday, claiming officials from Comair -- based at the Greater Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky Airport -- linked his "strong ethnic appearance" with possible terrorism.
Knops is a legal alien of German citizenship and German-Dominican heritage.
In the suit, Knops claims he showed a cartoon critical of President Bush and a sticker ridiculing "support our troops" car magnets to a fellow flight attendant, Linda Brutzer, during a flight in November.
Knops said Brutzer remained cordial on a return flight, but she may have been "offended by his lukewarm sense of nationalism."
In the suit, Knops claims Brutzer told Comair officials that he was a potential terrorist, that he hated white people -- Americans in particular -- that he "wanted President Bush to be done away with," that he had pictures of American flags on fire, that he was glad terrorists had attacked the United States and that he downloaded confidential airline and flight information "for potential terrorist use."
Knops called those claims "gross distortions" of anything he said. He filed a separate defamation suit in March against Brutzer, who declined comment yesterday through her Cincinnati attorney, M. Scott McIntyre.
A federal judge said yesterday he will hear arguments for dismissing that case Aug. 12.
A spokeswoman for Comair said yesterday it is company policy not to comment on pending litigation.
Knops' attorney could not be reached for comment.
Knops claims he was fired after Comair investigated Brutzer's claims. In December, Comair officials removed him from a flight, told him his visa was expired and refused to reinstate him after questioning. In the suit, Knops said his visa was newly issued.
During a second investigation on Feb. 16, Knops' suit says, an FBI official deemed he "was not a threat" to security. He was fired by Comair that same day.
A report by Comair included in the suit says Knops was fired for rudeness and intimidation of a fellow employee -- Brutzer said Knops had her address and she received phone calls with no response and a "disturbing visit" at home. The report was not clear about whether the visit was from Knops.
The Comair report also said Knops discussed the investigation with his roommates and was insubordinate to "reasonable requests" to meet.
Knops accused Comair of racial discrimination because "the actions taken against the plaintiff ... would not have been taken, and have not been taken, against Caucasian or U.S.-born citizen employees."
Comair sued the federal government and the Lexington airport Friday.
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The estates of two victims of the Comair 5191 crash have reached legal settlements with the airline.
The terms of the agreement reached between Comair and the estates of Bobbie Sue and Jesse Benton are confidential.