WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Transportation Department accused Northwest Airlines of mistreating passengers with disabilities and asked the airline to pay $3 million in fines. It is the largest civil penalty ever proposed by the department for such a violation.
The department charged Northwest Friday with hundreds of violations of federal law and DOT regulations prohibiting airlines from discriminating against the disabled. An airline can be fined up to $10,000 for each violation.
Northwest said it would fight the charges.
The Transportation Department said that in investigating the original complaint filed in February 2000, it found consumers waiting an hour or more for a wheelchair, disabled family members being left aboard planes, passengers being wheeled to the wrong gate and therefore missing flights, and airline employees unavailable to push wheelchairs.
"Accessibility in transportation is a civil right," Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta said, while not commenting specifically on the charges against Northwest.
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