A Sikh businessman is suing a US airline, its subsidiary and a flight attendant for allegedly violating his civil rights.
Hansdip Bindra had a 'horrible experience' (Photo: US Newswire)
Hansdip Bindra, who was born in India but is a permanent resident of the United States, said a flight attendant mistakenly referred to him as a Muslim from the Middle East and singled him out as a possible security risk on an internal flight.
The lawsuit says a female flight attendant, who no longer works for the airline, asked other passengers for help should she need to restrain Mr Bindra, who wears a turban and has a beard in keeping with his Sikh religion.
"See the man up front with the turban on, he's the one who is going to cause trouble," the attendant is alleged by the lawsuit to have said to other passengers.
Mr Bindra says that when he attempted to explain the cultural differences between Sikh and Muslims, he was told by the woman to "shut up".
He is seeking damages from Delta, its subsidiary, Atlantic Coast Airlines and the attendant.
He also wants airline workers in future to be given cultural training to avoid similar misunderstandings.
Mr Bindra had flown from Newark in the state of New Jersey to Cincinnati in Ohio on 26 November 2002 and was flying on to the city of Dayton on ACA when the alleged incident took place.
"I went through a horrible experience," Bindra was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying.
"I was told agents were going to meet me at the door. For 45 minutes I was shaking on that flight."
Delta said it could not comments on pending litigation but a spokesman told the Associated Press news agency that it did not tolerate discrimination against customers or employees.
US airlines have been accused of racial discrimination against Arab and Muslim male passengers, particularly following the 11 September 2001 attacks and Sikhs have frequently been mistakenly perceived as being of Middle Eastern origin.
Sikhs were the mistaken targets in several incidents, including a shooting in Arizona of a Sikh man just days after the hijackings.