A Middle Eastern wife of a former FBI agent has claimed that she was locked in the bathroom of an American Airlines flight along with her three-year-old child by a flight attendant and accused of causing a "terrorism incident", according to a lawsuit.
Yazz Giraldo, a Middle Eastern and Latina mother of two, is "traumatized" by the incident and believes she was singled out because she and her husband, Ali Moghaddam, spoke Farsi to their young children, according to a New York Post report. The incident took place in September when the family was traveling from Fort Lauderdale to New York to attend a wedding on Long Island.
Giraldo recalled that both the children urgently needed to use the restroom, so he attempted to take the infant to the first-class restroom closest to their seats at the front of the aircraft. However, an unidentified flight attendant stopped her and said that she was not allowed to use it despite "everybody else using it," her lawsuit, seen by the New York Post, said.
After that, she took her daughter to the back of the aircraft, where her husband was seated alone. A second flight attendant informed the mother that she was free to use the first-class restroom nearest to her seat while changing her daughter's diaper.
However, she claimed that when she later tried, she was locked in, according to a Brooklyn Federal Court discrimination lawsuit she filed against American Airlines.
She was denied access to first class, and the flight attendant tried to stop her even as the distraught kid "was holding himself, he was about to lose it," according to Giraldo.
"I closed the door, when I'm inside the bathroom I start hearing the noise, 'tick, tick, tick,'" she said of the sound of the door locking. "I freaked out. I was already under so much stress. ... I started to panic, I banged on the door a few times and I said, 'Let me out of here.'"
"She was punishing me for challenging her," Giraldo, 36, said of the flight attendant, who was not identified in the lawsuit.
The former TV host lost track of time in the bathroom as she was overwhelmed, "shaking," and crying until she was released.
"I was humiliated," she said.
However, her ordeal didn't end there.
After she was released, a supervisor came over and claimed that because of her, the "pilot decided to put the plane under terrorist attack warning." She claimed that the supervisor yelled at her when she tried to explain what had occurred.
"I immediately knew it was racism. I immediately knew I was being discriminated against," she said.
Giraldo's husband, who spent six years working for the FBI, was oblivious to all that was going on and didn't find out until the family was escorted off the plane in New York.
Moghaddam, a former Pennsylvania prosecutor who served six years in the Federal Bureau of Investigation, requested that they should be taken to the FBI substation. The family was finally released 15 minutes later after authorities learned that Moghaddam had a background in law enforcement.
"I dedicated about a decade of my life to public service, to protecting the community. Joint Terrorism Task Force, undercover, S.W.A.T., all of this ... for my family to be labeled as terrorist and be marched off a plane just because we want to change a diaper?" he told The Post.
"For me, there's certain terms that have a history and connotation that is very negative," he continued. "That word terrorism is unique, especially considering all my sacrifices... you don't throw that around."
The couple, who were once ardent travelers, now fears flying and wonders if they ought to teach their kids Farsi.
According to their attorney, Jitesh Dudani, Giraldo is currently in therapy.
According to American Airlines, the lawsuit is being looked at which also aspires to "provide a positive and welcoming experience to everyone."