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April 15, 2009
United Airlines Will Settle in Discrimination Lawsuit
United Airlines has agreed to settle a federal lawsuit that alleged its overtime policy violated provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The settlement was announced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which had brought the suit. Under the agreement, United will pay $850,000 to a class of employees with disabilities.

The suit arose from a charge filed by a storekeeper working for United at the San Francisco International Airport. EEOC, on the storekeeper's behalf, claimed that United’s policy of denying the opportunity to work overtime to anyone on light or limited duty had greater repercussions for employees with disabilities. That’s because those workers are more likely than other employees to be assigned light duty.

The storekeeper, who has epilepsy, was under medical restrictions that prevented him from operating heavy machinery and working at heights. But his condition did not restrict the number of hours he could work. He was given light duty for his regular work schedule.

As a result, United had barred him from overtime, despite the fact that he was medically able to work extra hours.

EEOC Attorney William R. Tamayo said the policy “runs counter to the ADA’s goal that each employee be evaluated individually on whether they can get the job done, with or without accommodation.”

The settlement also requires United not to enact such policies in the future. And the airline must notify all current and former employees at the San Francisco airport who were subject to the policy that they can submit claims to share in the $850,000 settlement. (The case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Northern California, No. CV 09 0784 EMC.)

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