The American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the suit in Detroit, charged Shoshana Hebshi, 36, a freelance writer of Arab and Jewish descent, was a victim of racial profiling, The Detroit News reported.
"The illegal arrest and strip search of Ms. Hebshi is not simply a mistake made by an airline employee or government agency, but a predictable consequence of institutionalizing racial stereotypes and mass suspicion as law enforcement tactics," Sarah Mehta, an ACLU lawyer, said in a statement.
Hebshi, who lives in Sylvania, Ohio, said Transportation Security Administration agents singled her out along with two men of Indian descent sitting next to her after their Frontier Airlines flight from Denver landed in Detroit Sept. 11, 2011. She said in a blog post the agents ordered the three of them to get up and told her she could not bring her cellphone. One of the agents then grabbed her arm, she said.
They were taken off the plane in handcuffs. The three were eventually released, but Hebshi said she was locked in a cell and strip-searched first.
"I thought about the incredible waste of taxpayer dollars in conducting an operation like this," she wrote. "I wondered what my rights were, if I had any at all. Mostly, I could not believe I was sitting in some jail cell in some cold, undisclosed building surrounded by 'the authorities.'"