A group of African-American United Airlines employees and pilots filed suit against their employer Tuesday, claiming they were passed over for promotions because of racial bias.
“The struggle for inclusion at United Airlines is a long-standing issue that many have tried to address over a long period of time,” said plaintiff Capt. Leon Miller, in a statement.
United Continental Holdings Inc., parent company of United Airlines and the world’s largest air carrier, denies the allegations and has vowed to defend itself “vigorously.”
The plaintiffs’ claims stem back to 2009. According to the lawsuit, United’s policy of fostering “highly subjective” decision-making put Black employees at a disadvantage when it came to qualifying for promotions, in violation of federal and state laws.
They also allege that nearly all the Black employees who work for United hold non-management positions, and those who do hold management positions are left out of critical email communication and social gatherings in which important issues and advancement opportunities are discussed.
“The company’s employment policies involve uncontrolled subjective criteria that are applied in an arbitrary manner, further promoting racial biases and stereotypes to the detriment of many extremely qualified management candidates,” said plaintiff Capt. Fred Robinson, in a statement.
The group of plaintiffs is comprised of 22 African-American captains and two African-American operations supervisors who claim they have all been passed over for promotions because of race. Nearly half of the plaintiffs took part in a federal equal employment racial discrimination case filed against United in 2010. The participants claim the company punished them for their involvement by withholding promotions and special assignments.
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