In 2002, the ACLU of Maryland brought a lawsuit as part of five civil rights lawsuits filed across the country accusing American, Continental, Northwest and United Airlines of blatant discrimination against passengers who were ejected from flights based on the prejudice of airline employees and passengers and for reasons wholly unrelated to security.
The lawsuits were filed in California, New Jersey and Maryland by Relman & Associates, a Washington-based civil rights law firm, and the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of five men and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Four of the passengers were United States citizens and the fifth was a permanent legal resident; two of the five were of Arab descent.
The ACLU of Maryland's client was Hassan Sader, then a 36-year-old U.S. citizen of Moroccan origin who was removed from an American Airlines flight from Baltimore to Chicago (en route to Seattle) on October 31, 2001, because another passenger told an attendant that she was not comfortable flying with Sader on board. Sader had passed through all security checks without incident and he was not searched again before boarding another flight. A gate agent told him afterward that he was removed because he was from the Middle East and because his name was Hassan.