On March 18, 2018, the ACLU of Kansas filed a complaint against the Spirit Boeing Employees' Association (SBEA) for racial profiling and religious discrimination against Munir Zanial, a dues-paying member of the organization.
In September, Zanial rented SBEA's recreational lake in Wichita to host a party celebrating Malaysian Independence Day and Eid-al Adhara. The celebration included a Malaysian flag and involved guests of Malaysian Indian ancestry, some of whom were wearing hijabs.
Following the party, SBEA filed a complaint with Spirit Aerosystems, Zanial’s employer, alleging that Zanial and his guests were in possession of an ISIS flag and were conducting an ISIS meeting on SBEA property. In response, Spirit Aerosystems filed a complaint with the FBI, alleging that a “group dressed in Muslim garb” with “an American flag desecrated with ISIS symbols” had gathered on the property.
In October, after speaking to Zanial and determining that the “desecrated flag” was a Malaysian flag, the FBI closed its investigation. SBEA, however, obtained a private investigator to continue investigating the incident and terminated Zanial’s rental benefits. At no point in time did SBEA personally discuss the allegations with Zanial before terminating those benefits, and he was not notified of the termination until he again tried to reserve the recreational facilities at a later date.
The ordeal has caused Zanial to experience a great deal of stress and anxiety. He is concerned that the investigation could affect his lawful permanent resident status and feels distress and humiliation based on this experience of being singled-out because of his ethnicity, race and religion.
The ACLU of Kansas calls on the Court to enter a permanent injunction directing SBEA to take all affirmative steps necessary to remedy the effects of the illegal and discriminatory incident and award Zanial compensatory damages for the distress he has endured.