Passengers Claim 'Rescued' Airlines Still Discriminate
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 19, 2004
MIAMI, FLORIDA--A group of 13 air travelers has filed a lawsuit against ten U.S. airlines, claiming that the carriers continue to discriminate against passengers with disabilities in violation of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Miami against American, America West, Continental, Northwest, Trans States and United airlines, Delta Air Lines, the Alaska and Mesa air groups and US Airways.
The airlines named in the suit accepted a total of $3.2 billion in government bail-out funds after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Attorneys representing the passengers in the suit said that accepting the federal money opened up the airlines to private claims under the 1973 law's anti-discrimination provisions.
"The airlines, by taking the money, may not even have realized they are exposing themselves to liability from private lawsuits," said Barbara Junge, an attorney with the firm of de la O & Marko, which represents the passengers.
The suit is a test case, asking the court to force the airlines to make reasonable accommodations in aircraft, facilities and programs and to pay damages for past violations.
Attorneys for the passengers claimed they are subjected to harassment and inconveniences by the airlines because they cannot file individual lawsuits under the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.
"September 11, 2001 and Beyond: The Impact of the Terror Attacks on People With Disabilities" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)