WASHINGTON -- American Airlines agreed to spend at least $1.5
million on civil rights training for its flight and cabin crews and
customer service personnel.
The move was made to settle Transportation Department charges
that the airline discriminated against Arab, Middle Eastern and
Southeast Asian passengers in the wake of 9/11.
The DOT began an enforcement action against the carrier last
April alleging 11 incidents of discrimination when passengers were
denied boarding or removed from AA flights, seemingly because of
their ethnic background, in the months after the terrorist
American had denied that any of the actions were discriminatory and
had said that in many instances the passengers were detained for
problems relating to their documentation or conduct rather than
their ethnic status. Some were accommodated on later flights when
the questions were resolved.
In the settlement offer, the airline did not admit to any
wrongdoing but agreed to the training expenditure over a three-year
period to avoid further litigation.
It also agreed to share its training materials with the DOT,
which is separately contracting with an outside firm to develop a
technical assistance manual and model training program for airline
employees about federal nondiscrimination law.