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Black pilots sue United Airlines for race discrimination

June 11, 2012

Retaliation claims also alleged by 11 employees in response to 2010 EEOC filing

Capt. Marlon Green was a Black pilot whose landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1963 helped dismantle racial discrimination in the passenger airline industry, leading to David Harris’ hiring as the first Black pilot for a major airline the following year. Green was subsequently hired by Continental Airlines.
San Francisco – Twenty-four long-term employees of United Continental Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: UAL), United Air Lines, Inc., and Continental Airlines, Inc., filed a lawsuit May 29 alleging race discrimination, retaliation and harassment in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and state fair employment laws. The complaint claims United Airlines violated federal and state laws by maintaining policies that have a disparate impact on African-Americans’ opportunities for promotions. The complaint also alleges that UAL systematically engages in an ongoing pattern and practice of intentional discrimination in assignments and promotions against its African-American captains and operation supervisors.

The lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges a long history of unlawful discriminatory behavior across multiple states in which the companies operate.

“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.

Twenty-two of the 24 plaintiffs are African-American captains and two are African-American operations supervisors at United Airlines and Continental Airlines, who have been illegally passed over for promotions between 2009 and the present. Each of the 24 plaintiffs has been employed by United Airlines or Continental Airlines for more than 14 years.

“The struggle for inclusion at United Airlines is a long-standing issue that many have tried to address over a long period of time,” commented Capt. Leon Miller, a plaintiff in the case against United. “We must break the glass ceiling and stop retaliatory actions and make a corporate culture change that is truly inclusive.”

Xavier Samuel, a United Airlines pilot, was interviewed by the media at a screening of the film “Red Tails” in January. More than 300 students in Houston attended a screening of the film, which chronicles the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first Black World War II fighter pilot crew.
The plaintiffs claim that UAL discriminates against minority captains and supervisors by use of a dual employment track, pre-selection and “grooming” of non-minority employees for promotion and the maintenance of largely segregated job categories and departments. According to the complaint, UAL disproportionately assigns non-minority employees to temporary management positions that are more lucrative and provide employees with more opportunities for advancement, greater job security, and greater pay and benefits, to which similarly qualified minority employees are rarely assigned.

According to the complaint, virtually all minority employees of UAL occupy non-management positions, and the few who are able to break into management ranks are often subjected to discriminatory practices that minimize their opportunities for further advancement. Also, UAL allegedly provides minority employees with fewer promotions to management positions than are offered to similarly situated, non-minority employees by systematically relegating qualified minority employees to positions outside of management.

“We have endured a habitual, longstanding pattern of discriminatory behavior at the hands of UAL,” said Capt. Terry Haynie. “From the Tuskegee Airmen who shed blood to defend a segregated nation in World War II to Capt. Marlon Green’s (Continental Airlines) Supreme Court decision (March 28, 1963), to Capt. Jim Edwards (United Airlines, 1967), determined individuals broke the color barrier in the commercial airline industry. We still have airlines that will take your money to travel but do not have significant diversity in senior management and the ‘corner suites.’”

“From the Tuskegee Airmen who shed blood to defend a segregated nation in World War II to Capt. Marlon Green’s (Continental Airlines) Supreme Court decision (March 28, 1963), to Capt. Jim Edwards (United Airlines, 1967), determined individuals broke the color barrier in the commercial airline industry,” said Capt. Terry Haynie.

UAL has a long history of race discrimination issues dating back to 1970s. In the release from the EEOC Consent Decree against United Airlines issued March 2, 1995, Judge Hubert Will commented, “We caution that our conclusion is not a determination that employment discrimination may no longer be a problem at United.”

In addition to the main allegations, 11 of the 24 plaintiffs have claimed retaliation by UAL stemming from charges they filed with the EEOC in 2010 for race discrimination under Title VII. The plaintiffs maintain that UAL had actual knowledge of the 2010 charges and, in direct retaliation for filing those charges and participating in the EEOC process, UAL has withheld all promotions and special assignments. Several of the plaintiffs have also alleged wrongful, severe and pervasive harassment and discrimination on account of race by UAL and failure to remedy the hostile environment and acts of harassment.

The plaintiffs are seeking an end to these discriminatory practices, and declaratory and injunctive relief, including rightful place relief, back pay, front pay and compensatory and punitive damages for the individual plaintiffs. For a copy of the complaint, visit Unitedwestandfordiversity.com.

 

12 thoughts on “Black pilots sue United Airlines for race discrimination

  1. @RenaldoRickett

    Here we go again it doesn't end, racism raises it's' ugly head in the rank and file to manangement in the in the country that still practices aparthei. They've not adjusted to the laws they simply find ways to circumvent them and are covert. This prqactice is still falcious and transparent ,their true in tensions are revealed through manerism and blatant neglect. You can't hide your motives it has a way of seeping through like osmosis and exposing your alterior motives. Uniteds is not unique in these matters, this is a reflection of the society, what we're witnessing, racism at bat in a socce game they're are simply playing with the wrong ball as usual. Time is catching up with their mundane ,archaic practices and hopefully justice shall prevail in the United Airline lawsuite.

    Reply
  2. @RenaldoRickett

    Everywhere they go they take this barbaric sick psychosis with them, I sometimes wonder are they innately racist. What possesses people who are labeled humans to be so inhumane, is it the lack of melanin or their Neanderthal genes protruding through their ignorance in society? We need to have humanity check centers on this planet, Houston we have a problem!

    Reply
    1. Selina

      "is it the lack of melanin or their Neanderthal genes protruding through their ignorance in society?"

      Its their Neanderthal Genes protruding they don't have Melanin.

      Reply
      1. Anthony

        Based on your comment neanderthal genes are far more advanced than niggerthal ones. We actually invented the flight industry, while niggerthals just tag along.

        Reply
  3. Johnny Mays

    These practices can no longer be condoned and overlooked in this country and elsewhere! The laws must be upheld and the agencies involved must be held accountable for their participation in these racist actions!!!

    Reply
  4. @RenaldoRickett

    why are we dealing with this age old problem of craka racism after centuries of domination.The answer is simple they teach it in their homes ,it's impossible for a child to be a born racist.This is the collecticve unspoken they never talk about why does it persist?

    Reply
  5. Ma

    Unbelievable. United Airlines has, for many decades gone out of their way to hire woefully under qualified pilots simply because they were minorities. As an airline pilot for the last 25 years, I have seen first hand dozens of times their practice of hiring 250 hour pilots that were minorities over 8000 hour white males. Now the guys who likely benefited from that absurd hiring practice feel discriminated against. Wow.

    Reply
    1. Brian

      +1 man. I can’t even believe this. It’s status quo in this industry and especially United that if you’re a minority you the job easier.

      Reply
  6. Dorothy Edwards

    Was the lawsuit ever finalized and settled between United Airlines and the 22 African American
    pilots? I know that a lot of time has come and gone, but I'm hoping it will allow opportunities for
    other African American airmen to be successful at reaching their highest potentials.

    Reply
    1. Mark

      JUDGE DISMISSED THE CASE…..well imagine that the good ole boy club is still prevalent in this society. Never the less I would rather take my chances being a minority pilot for United than work most jobs were you still get discriminated against. As long as there is ignorance and hate there will be racism . I am a black commercial pilot who raised 6 kids all of whom proudly serve 5 still active duty 2 Navy 2 Air-force 2 Army. Our integrity is our own. How we live our lives far out weighs what any one else can put on us.

      Reply

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