Local News

Pakistani-Born Pilot Sues JetBlue, Claiming Discrimination

Posted August 9, 2006

— A Pakistani-born pilot who lives in Raleigh has sued JetBlue Airways Corp. for discrimination, claiming the airline rescinded a job offer and told him it was because of his background.

Faisal Baig, a U.S. citizen who was raised in New York, claims in the suit that an airline manager told him he was a security risk and couldn't pilot a plane for JetBlue.

JetBlue offered Baig a job in March and invited him to their training school in Florida. The airline even provided him with confidential information on a new Airbus aircraft that officials said he would be flying for them.

But the day before training was to start, he said a manager called him and pulled the job offer.

"She said, 'Your background is complete, but it's your background,'" the woman told Baig, a practicing Muslim.

"'Is it because of where I'm from? My religion?'" he asked. "She said, 'I don't know what to tell you, but JetBlue deems you a security risk.'"

Bryan Baldwin, a spokesman for JetBlue, declined to comment because it is a pending legal matter.

Baig, 40, flew planes for Independence Air for six years before it went out of business and is still looking for a new job. He said the rejection hurt and confused him.

"I've been living in this country since I was 7, and now somebody's telling me I'm not a good American," he said. "September 11th changed a lot of things, and maybe a lot of minds, which is maybe unfortunate. But I don't know how to change that."

The lawsuit, filed in New York Supreme Court, seeks an unspecified amount of money.

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