Muslim family files lawsuit after being kicked off United flight at O'Hare

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A civil rights lawsuit is now filed on behalf of an Arab-American family who say they were forced off a United Airlines flight.

The couple says they were preparing to take off on a flight from O'Hare to Washington D.C. They were asked about a harness for one of their children. They say they were suddenly kicked off.

The Council on American Islamic Relations filed a lawsuit on behalf of Eaman and Mohamad Shebley.

We've reached out to United for comment. At the time of the incident. United said the family was rebooked on another flight and that their child's safety seat didn't comply with federal regulations.

Eaman-Amy Saad Shebley posted on her Facebook account on March 20, 2016 about the altercation.

Shebley, who wears an Islamic head scarf, or hijab, asked for an additional strap for the booster seat for one of her children, according to CAIR representative working with the family, Renner Larson. After discussion with a flight attendant about the strap, the family was asked to remove the booster seat, which they say they did.

A short time later, a CAIR statement said, the family was told to leave the plane because of safety concerns. They questioned whether it was a "discriminatory decision."

"They felt singled-out and helpless," Larson told ABC News. "We are tired of more and more of these instances: of Muslims being taken off flights for flimsy reasons."

The Chicago chapter of CAIR said at the time they sent a letter to United Airlines which calls for a formal apology to the family, disciplinary measures for the crew involved and sensitivity training for employees.

United Airlines maintains the reason the family was asked to leave was safety concern over the child's seat.

"We reached out to the family following their flight on March 20 to discuss their concerns," a United Airlines representative said in a statement to ABC News. "They were originally scheduled to fly on SkyWest 5811, operating as United Express from Chicago O'Hare to Washington, D.C., but we re-booked them on a later flight because of concerns about their child's safety seat, which did not comply with federal safety regulations."

"Both United and SkyWest hold our employees to the highest standards of professionalism and have zero tolerance for discrimination," the company added.
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