Posted at 03:34 PM ET, 10/11/2011

Southwest Airlines sued by Muslim woman they removed from flight

In recent years, people have been thrown off of airlines for the slightest provocation. A skimpy outfit. The use of profanity. A baby’s tantrum.

Irum Abbasi outside Terminal 1 at the San Diego International Airport in March. (Earnie Grafton - AP)
But in March, a misunderstanding by a Southwest Airlines stewardess had many saying the airline had gone too far. While on the phone with a Verizon representative, Muslim passenger Irum Abbasi said “I’ve got to go,” but a stewardess heard “It’s a go” and promptly had her removed before the flight took off from San Diego. While a TSA agent soon realized Abbasi was not a risk, the captain would not allow her back on board because crew members were “uncomfortable” with her presence.

Now, Abbasi says she is filing a discrimination suit against the airline.

Abbassi is asking for punitive damages for “discrimination based on race, religion, color, ethnicity, alienage, ancestry, and/or national origin, breach of contract, negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress,” according to Talking Points Memo.

While many airlines have come under fire in recent years for kicking passengers off flights without good reason, Southwest may be the most controversial.

Actor Kevin Smith says he was removed from a Southwest flight for being too fat. Green Day lead singer Billy Joe Armstrong was asked to go because his pants were too saggy. TV show “The L Word” actress Leisha Hailey says she got the boot after kissing her girlfriend.

Southwest apologized to Abbasi at the time, saying in a a statement: “We do not discriminate against anyone for any reason, and we’ve been recognized as a leader for our diversity and care for all of our customers throughout our 40 years of service.”

By  |  03:34 PM ET, 10/11/2011

Tags:  National, Southwest Airlines

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