Update: Discrimination Against a Boy with Down Syndrome – Family Plans to Sue [POLL/VIDEO]
Generally you know discrimination when you see it. This, to me, doesn’t look like discrimination.
A couple from California was about to board an American Airlines flight out of Newark Airport with their 16 year old son Bede, who has Down syndrome, when they were denied entry, they claim, because of their son’s condition.
The couple, Robert Vanderhorst and his wife Joan upgraded their tickets to first class so that one of them could sit with Bede on the cross country flight.
When the family was ready to board, they were stopped by airline personnel, told their son was a "security risk" and would not be allowed on the flight, he said. The parents protested, and later were rebooked to fly coach with another airline.
American Airlines spokesman Matt Miller said the disabled boy was agitated and running around the gate area prior to boarding, which his parents dispute. The airplane's pilot observed the boy, Miller said, and made the call based on his behavior.
"He was not ready to fly, that was our perspective," Miller said. "We rebooked the family out of concern for the young man's safety and that of other passengers as well."
But Vanderhorst said his son did not run at any time, did not make any loud noises and didn't display any other offensive behaviors. The boy walked around with him or sat quietly in the gate area, Vanderhorst said.
A cell phone video captured by the boy's mother shows Bede sitting and quietly playing with a baseball cap.
The family says the pilot might have also been affected by the disabled boy's size — Bede is 5 feet 1 and weighs 160 lbs.
On the second airplane, the family was placed in the last row and no passengers were allowed to sit within two rows of them, Vanderhorst said.
He hoped that airlines would change their mentality when dealing with the disabled.
And now the family plans to sue the airline under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
So here we have a case of “You Be the Judge”!
Do you feel this is discrimination or not? And were you "the Judge" would you find for the family, or the airline? I say no to the discrimination...and would probably find for the airline. First off, the mother’s video won’t be conclusive to proving anything since it could have been taken either prior to or after the pilot observed Bede and made the decision to deny them entry. Secondly, anyone who flies cross-country knows that the trip can be arduous…especially for someone who may be prone to acting up. Third, since the airline granted the boy and one of his parents first class seating, the pilot had to take into consideration the fact that should the boy become agitated at any stage in the flight, the proximity to the cockpit had to be taken into account. All in all, a fair judgment was rendered in placing the family on another flight and placing them in an area in the rear of the plane all to themselves. Seem cruel to you? I don’t think so…again, given the decision the pilot was in the position to make.