An Arlington, Texas, man filed suit against Greyhound Bus Lines on Wednesday, saying he was kicked off a bus in the middle of the night because he is Middle Eastern.
Mohammad Reza Sardari says he was “abandoned in the middle of the night at a dark and closed bus station in Wichita, Kansas” while taking the bus from Dallas to Kansas City, Missouri, in 2017.
Sardari said in the federal suit, filed in Dallas, that he was harassed by the bus driver, assaulted by fellow passengers and removed from the bus by Greyhound security.
Since then, he said, Greyhound has defamed him in the media by saying he was removed from the bus because he “became unruly.”
Sardari also took video of the driver forcing him to leave the bus.
“On the video, Dr. Sardari can be heard calmly asking for an explanation as to why he was being asked to leave the bus,” the lawsuit states. “Neither Greyhound security not the driver provided one.”
Greyhound Lines, Inc. was not available for comment Wednesday night.
Kicked off the bus
On Nov. 14, 2017, Sardari, who was a Ph.D. candidate at UT Arlington, was scheduled to present his research on inequality in the Dallas Area Rapid Transit System at a national conference in Kansas City.
Sardari, who is an Iranian national, said in the suit he took the Greyhound bus “in keeping with his philosophical commitment to public ground transportation.”
“Unfortunately, Greyhound did not get Dr. Sardari to his destination,” the suit says.
The following is an account of the bus ride according to Sardari’s lawsuit.
Sardari boarded the bus at 7 p.m. Nov. 13 in Dallas. He showed the driver his E-ticket — a copy of his ticket on his cellphone — and boarded without incident.
The bus stopped in Oklahoma City at about midnight and Sardari and other passengers transferred to a different bus with a different driver. Shortly after, Sardari fell asleep in his seat.
At about 2:30 am., while Sardari was still sleeping, the bus stopped in Wichita, Kansas, to board more passengers.
The driver shook Sardari awake and demanded to see a copy of his ticket, the suit states. Sardari showed the driver his E-ticket.
Sardari said after seeing his name printed on the ticket and hearing his accent, the driver became hostile.
According to the suit, the driver raised her voice and yelled, “I cannot accept this cellphone ticket,” and said “in a mean, demeaning tone, ‘Do you understand what the meaning of a printed copy is?’”
Sardari showed the driver his printed ticket as well, “feeling embarrassed and noticing other passengers were staring at him.”
However, Sardari said in the suit the driver “refused Dr. Sardari’s efforts to calmly show her his paper ticket.”
The bus driver told Sardari to get off the bus, according to the suit, and said she had called police.
Sardari videotaped his interaction with the driver. The video shows him holding a ticket out to a woman.
“You’re not going with me. I don’t want to talk to you no more,” she says in the video. “You get off my bus. Police is helping you out. Don’t worry, police is coming. You’re not going with me.”
According to the suit, passengers started to assault Sardari due to the driver’s “loud accusations” against him.
One threatened to hurt him if he did not get off the bus. Another grabbed his bags and shouted expletives at him, the suit says.
According to the suit, the driver had not called Wichita police but instead had called Greyhound security. When security arrived, they removed Sardari from the bus.
Security “made thinly veiled threats to remove Dr. Sardari from the bus ‘the hard way’” if he did not voluntarily leave, the lawsuit says.
Sardari got off the bus at about 3:40 a.m. at the Wichita station, which was closed.
In order to make it to his 8:30 a.m. conference, Sardari said he was forced to call a ride-sharing service to drive him to Kansas City, which cost about $250, the suit says.
‘Defamed’ by Greyhound
Sardari says he was kicked off the bus and targeted because he is Middle Eastern.
He said in the suit it was not a coincidence the driver’s hostility began after she saw his name on his ticket and heard him speak with a heavy Middle Eastern accent.
He also said Greyhound defamed him after the incident when he shared his experience on social media and media outlets reported on the incident. Greyhound issued the following statement to various media outlets that shared Saradi’s story, the suit says:
“Greyhound has investigated the situation. The driver asked everyone onboard to show their ticket, and the customer, who was asked twice to present his ticket, refused to do so and became unruly, both with the driver and a security guard who was called for assistance. Due to his behavior, the customer was asked to leave the bus, to which he refused, and the police were called to remove him.”
Sardari said Greyhound’s statement is false.
“Greyhound has ignored Dr. Sardari and defamed him in the media in an effort to distract the public from its unlawful actions,” the lawsuit states.