Judge- 'Brown men' taken off plane can sue

Sunday, October 20, 2002

The Associated Press

NEWARK, N.J. -- A federal judge has refused to dismiss a discrimination lawsuit by two men who were removed from a Continental Airlines flight on New Year's Eve when a passenger complained about "brown-skinned men."

The Houston-based airline sought dismissal, arguing its employees have authority to bar passengers who might be "inimical to safety" under a federal law. The airline also said another law gives them broad protection in reporting "suspicious activity."

U.S. District Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise disagreed, ruling that intentional racial discrimination is not permissible.

He did not rule on the merit of the passengers' claims, only that they deserve a chance to prove that unlawful bias was the reason for their removal.

Continental spokesman Rahsaan Johnson said, "Continental did not discriminate in these cases. We intend to defend them vigorously."

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