Muslim families allege they were not allowed on New York ferry in discrimination complaint
© Getty Images

Three Muslim families filed a discrimination complaint Tuesday alleging that they were not allowed to board a New York City ferry due to a “security issue.”

The complaint, filed to the New York City Commission on Human Rights by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), alleges that the three families took an NYC ferry from Bay Bridge, Brooklyn to the ferry’s Wall Street Stop on Sept. 21.

They then tried to take another ferry to its Pier 6 stop in Brooklyn, but when the families tried to board, they were stopped by employees who said there was a security issue. The group had requested to board last because they had multiple children and a double stroller, according to the complaint. 


Two of the women were wearing hijabs and other religious symbols. Several people in the group have “pronounced accents” as well, according to the complaint.

When one of the women asked why they could not board, an NYC Ferry employee allegedly told her that security had blocked the passengers. The families were then escorted to security in full view of others on the boat.

Once there, the families were informed there was no issue. A "security employee” was confused and "did not know” why the group was being denied boarding.

Later, one of the women in the group was told that their entrance to the boat was denied because the children were allegedly standing on the seats when they boarded. NYC Ferry later admitted the reason was false, the filing states. 

“Complainants were embarrassed and humiliated, especially since the incidents described above occurred in public view of all the ferry passengers,” the complaint says. “The ferry passengers were looking at Complainants during the events described above, and complainants could feel the ferry passengers’ eyes directed at them.”

The complaint also says the children with the group were frustrated and began to cry when they did not understand why they were not allowed to go on the boat. 

The complaint says the ferry employees “ruined what was supposed to be a fun, warm day.”

NYC Ferry called the incident a “misunderstanding” and offered to reimburse the family for the fares. CAIR is seeking compensatory and emotional damages for the family’s distress, the complaint states. 

New York City's Economic Development Corporation, which runs NYC Ferry, told NBC News it is investigating the incident.

"NYCEDC takes these matters seriously, and is committed to ensuring that no person is denied services based on race, color, national origin, age, sex, religion, gender identity or disability," an official said in a statement to NBC News.

The Hill has reached out to NYC Ferry for comment.