3 Muslims, Sikh kicked off flight because of their looks, lawsuit says (CNN)A 23-year-old New York man remembers being "dramatically" woken up by a flight attendant who "demanded" he exit the aircraft. Believing the plane was undergoing an emergency evacuation, he complied, only to realize later that he was being singled out. The man, identified only by the initials "W.H" in a lawsuit filed Monday, along with three of his friends, Shan Anand, Faimul Alam, and another friend identified by the initials M.K., are alleging they were asked to leave an American Airlines Flight from Toronto to New York in early December because of their appearance. Three of the four men ejected from the flight are Muslim; another is Sikh. Three of the four are of South Asian descent and one is of Arab descent. All the men are U.S. citizens in their 20s and all four were sitting near the front of the plane, the lawsuit states. When they asked the flight crew why they were being removed, the flight attendant told them to exit "peacefully" and "demanded" they return to the gate and await further directions, according to the lawsuit. "It basically made me feel like a criminal," W.H. told CNN in a phone interview. "It was like I was put on a pedestal where everyone is pointing at you. I was frightened that they were frightened." It was only after the plane took off that an airline agent told the men "they could not board because the crew members, and specifically the captain, felt uneasy and uncomfortable with their presence on the flight and as such, refused to fly unless they were removed from the flight." When the group asked the agent whether their appearance had contributed to their removal, "being that they are dark skinned and had beards," the agent responded that their appearance "did not help," the lawsuit said. Two of their other friends, one Hispanic and one Pakistani, were assigned seats in the rear of the aircraft and were not asked to leave the original flight. All four men were allowed to board a subsequent flight after that flight's captain allowed them to board, the lawsuit said. The four men are seeking damages, alleging the airline "disgracefully engaged in the discrimination ... based on their perceived race, color, ethnicity, alienage and/or national origin," the lawsuit reads.