United Airlines Settle Arab-American's Discrimination Lawsuit

CHICAGO (AP) -- The American Civil Liberties Union announced a settlement with United Airlines on Friday in a discrimination lawsuit against the carrier by an Arab-American who was removed from a flight three months after the terror attacks in 2001.

Terms were not disclosed.

The suit was brought on behalf of Assem Bayaa, an Irvine, Calif., auditor who was taken off a New York-bound United flight from Los Angeles on Dec. 23, 2001, and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Bayaa said security told him he was removed because the crew wasn't comfortable having him aboard.

United had argued that complying with civil rights laws might conflict with the duty of flight crews to determine whether a passenger poses a security threat.

Confirming the settlement, United said it disputes the claims but wanted to resolve the case.

''We believe the resolution is in the best interest of everyone involved,'' spokesman Dave Dimmer said.

The ACLU also applauded United for its comprehensive employee training program involving equal treatment of customers, developed in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Transportation. The agency said it had recommended that Bayaa and the Anti-Discrimination Committee resolve their lawsuit in light of United's industry-leading efforts in that area.

''The purpose of the lawsuit was ensure that no one else is ever again subjected to this form of discrimination, and to defend the core American values of equality under the law and nondiscrimination,'' ADC President Mary Rose Oakar said. She called United's training program an essential step in raising awareness.

In a similar case involving American Airlines, the government last year announced a settlement over complaints the carrier discriminated after the attacks against passengers it thought were of Arab, Middle Eastern or Southeast Asian descent. American agreed to spend about $1.5 million over three years on civil rights training to employees who deal with the public.