A lawyer for Anila Daulatzai is claiming that his client was not booted from her Southwest Airlines flight after complaining of a “life-threatening” allergy to the pets on the plane, but rather because she was the victim of sexism and racial profiling.
Furthermore, he writes that she was pregnant at the time of the highly publicized incident, which went viral after footage of Daulatzai being removed from the flight was shared online.
In a statement released on Wednesday by Arjun S. Sethi of the Hall & Sethi personal injury firm, Sethi refutes earlier reports that Daulatzai, a 46-year-old professor, had been complaining of allergies. According to the statement, which Sethi shared on behalf of Daulatzai and her family, the woman had spoken with Southwest employees of her allergies prior to boarding the flight from Baltimore to Los Angeles, and agreed to take a seat near the back of the plane.
Sethi alleges that his client was merely grading papers in her seat when Southwest employees approached her and began barraging her with questions.
“She was never asked for medical certification, nor would she have needed to carry that, because her allergies are not life threatening,” he writes. “Despite trying to convince the crew that she would be completely fine on the plane, she was asked by another Southwest representative to leave the plane.”
He added that Maryland Transportation Authority Police had “humiliated her for the world to see in a now viral video” by tearing her pants and dragging her through the aisle of the plane. The statement also claims that police later “disparaged her, accused her of lying about her pregnancy, and made racist remarks about immigrants.”
Daulatzai and her lawyer also appeared in a segment on Thursday morning's edition of "Good Morning America" to reiterate many of these points, with Daulatzia claiming she was removed from the flight for being "a brown woman with a hoodie."
According to a statement Fox News obtained from the Maryland Transportation Authority a few days after the Sept. 26 incident, Daulatzai had been arrested and charged with “disorderly conduct, failure to obey a reasonable and lawful order, disturbing the peace, obstructing and hindering a police officer and resisting arrest.” She was released the same day of her own recognizance, they confirmed.
These charges, however, have “no merit,” according to Sethi’s statement.
“Professor Daulatzai was profiled, abused, interrogated, detained, and subjected to false reporting and the trauma of racist, vitriolic public shaming precisely because she is a woman, a person of color, and a Muslim.
“This endangered the physical and emotional well-being of a pregnant woman, researcher, and teacher.”
ABC News reported that Daulatzai and her lawyer plan to pursue legal action.
Southwest, for its part, issued an apology to Daulatzai shortly after the incident, and claimed they would be following up to "address her concerns."
The police have denied a request by the Associated Press to obtain a copy of the arrest report, claiming their investigation remains open.