A Muslim commercial pilot is free to fly after his name appeared on a U.S. government terrorist watch list, leaving his job up in the air.
Eric Scherfen, a Gulf War veteran, was scheduled to be terminated Sept. 1, but his employer, Colgan Air Inc., restored his flight status while the case is under review. Scherfen sued the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies last month for putting his name on a watch list because he converted to the Muslim faith, he said. His constitutional rights were violated and job jeopardized, according to the claim filed by Scherfen and his wife.
In their lawsuit, the couple said they have been repeatedly subjected to searches, questioning and detention at airports and border crossings since 2006. Ticket agents and others have made vague references to their names being on lists, but there was no clear explanation for the extra scrutiny.
A New Jersey native, Scherfen, 37, said he believes his name was placed on a watch list because he converted to Islam in 1994 — even though he is a Gulf War combat veteran. Both he and his Pakistan-born wife, who is also a Muslim, said they have no criminal records or ties to terrorism.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.