Eight months after he was kicked off a Delta flight for using the restroom while the plane was taxiing, Kima Hamilton says the color of his skin was a factor. In a federal lawsuit filed in Milwaukee on Tuesday, Hamilton, a 40-year-old black man, says his 35-second venture to the restroom on April 18 was an emergency and Delta's decision to remove him represents racial discrimination—as another passenger previously suggested. Hamilton explains he waited in his seat for 15 to 20 minutes before trying to use the restroom for the first time as the plane sat on the tarmac in Atlanta, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. After a flight attendant told him use of the restroom would forfeit the plane's position in line for departure to Milwaukee, Hamilton says he returned to his seat. Unable to wait, however, he used the restroom 10 minutes later.
Hamilton says he was then told he would need to get off the plane. All passengers were eventually removed while Hamilton was questioned by FBI agents. Hamilton says he was later told he wouldn't be charged with interfering with a flight because he'd "maintained his composure." But Hamilton says he wasn't allowed back on the plane despite the fact that he "did not at any time violate any of the provisions" in Delta's Contract of Carriage regarding passenger conduct as grounds for removal. A separate rule, however, says a passenger may be removed for failing to comply "with any of Delta's rules." A Delta spokesman says passengers must "comply with crew instructions during all phases of flight, especially at the critical points of takeoff and landing, which our findings indicate this customer did not do." (More on Hamilton's experience here.)