The parents of a teenager with Down syndrome claim they were kept off an American Airlines flight because the pilot did not want a disabled child in first class. Robert Vanderhorst, his wife and their 16-year-old son Bede were set to fly on American Airlines from Newark, New Jersey to Los Angeles. The carrier claims the decision was made for safety reasons, as the boy was agitated and running around the gate area before boarding, prompting concern from the crew. Before it was time to board, the family was approached twice by a customer service representative who told them the pilot was concerned the boy could create a disturbance. There was alleged unease about Bede’s size – he is 5’1” and weighs 160 pounds – and his seat’s proximity to the cockpit. The family was rebooked in economy class on United and American has refunded their upgrade fees. Full article.

The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, state and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications. The ADA does not specifically name all of the impairments that are covered, but common examples of disabilities include confinement to a wheelchair, reliance on assistive devices such as canes and walkers, blindness, deafness, a learning disability, and certain kinds of mental illness. The ADA states that a business entity shall not discriminate against a qualified individual with a disability. This applies to job application procedures, hiring, advancement and discharge of employees, workers’ compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. For more information: ADA Website

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