[nfb-talk] Fw: Air Canada handed fine for discrimination
lauraeaves at yahoo.com
Tue Jan 27 21:03:10 UTC 2009
I know this is a Canadian company but thought it was pertinent to the list. I know a lot of blind passengers who fly on their own, but they are only blind and have no hearing or walking issues.
----- Original Message -----
From: Gianfranco Di Cosmo
Sent: Monday, January 26, 2009 7:58 PM
Subject: Air Canada handed fine for discrimination
VANCOUVER -- The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has ordered Air Canada (TSX:AC.A) to pay a deaf and partially blind Vancouver man $10,000 for insisting he fly accompanied when he wanted to fly on his own.
However, the tribunal did not order the airline to automatically allow Eddie Morten to fly unaccompanied. Instead, it said the airline should give him an individual assessment of his abilities before making any decision as to whether he can fly alone or not.
"Mr. Morten's complaint is substantiated," said the decision released Monday.
The discrimination came in denying him the right to have his level of self-reliance assessed in a fair manner, the tribunal found.
"It is impossible to say with sufficient certainty that if he were assessed properly, his communications and mobility capabilities would be sufficient to put him on a par with the risk profiles of other passengers whom Air Canada currently allows to fly unaccompanied," said the decision.
Morten is deaf, blind in his left eye and has limited vision in his right.
But with the help of a guide dog, the man in his mid-40s uses public transit, takes taxis and has two sons that he has fully participated in raising, noted the tribunal decision.
"He believes that he is capable and able to manage his life independently. He is very proud of having achieved this," the decision said.
In August 2004, Morten asked his travel agent to book a flight from Vancouver to San Francisco.
Morten wanted to travel independently but the airline reservations agent told his travel agent that he would need to fly with an attendant because of his disability. The reservations agent said Air Canada could offer a discounted fare.
The Canadian Transport Agency dismissed a separate complaint by Morten but the decision by the three-member panel of the federal human rights tribunal upheld the complaint.
In the United States, it noted, deaf and blind passengers are permitted to travel alone as long as they have some means of communication with attendants "adequate to permit transmission of the pre-takeoff safety briefing."
The tribunal cited a decision by the U.S. Department of Transportation that found deaf and blind passengers don't need to be able to hear commands such as "brace" or "this way out" in order to comply with them.
"They can respond appropriately to environmental cues such as the violent movement or jarring of the aircraft, smoke or rushing air. Movements of other passengers would also assist the deaf/blind in coping with an emergency," said the tribunal decision.
The decision notes that there are other passengers with "comprised mobility" allowed to fly unaccompanied.
"The fact that in emergency situations, many able-bodied passengers are unable to receive, process and act on safety-related emergency instructions."
The tribunal ordered Air Canada to pay Morten $10,000 for injury to his dignity and gave the airline four months to develop a policy for assessing the safety risk of disabled passengers.
The Canadian Press
Posted at 2009/01/26 19:56:48
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Gianfranco Di Cosmo
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