The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit’s ruling allowed Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)’s federal anti-discrimination lawsuit against Mesa Airlines to move forward.
Issam Abdallah and Abderraouf Alkhawaldeh, two representatives of the Dallas-Fort Worth area Muslim community, suffered egregious racial discrimination while attempting to fly home to Texas after an international relief fundraiser in Alabama.
Mesa Airlines pilot assumed they were terrorists based on their “Arab, Mediterranean” race and refused to fly with them on board, telling security that she was “not flying this plane with a brother named Issam on it.”
Earlier this year, United States District Judge Reed O’Connor granted summary judgment for Mesa.
The Fifth Circuit reversed and sent the case back to the district court for trial, holding that a jury could find that the pilot’s actions were illegally motivated by racial discrimination.
Issam and Abderraouf were profiled, surveilled, and deemed to be a threat simply because of their race, CAIR said.
“It is unacceptable to treat anyone like a ‘terrorist’ because of their race or their religion.” said CAIR National Litigation Director Lena Masri.
“Mesa Airlines failed to give Issam and Abderraouf the dignity promised by our civil rights laws.”