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EEOC: United Airlines Violated Reservations Workers' Rights

by Dave Reynolds (subscribe)

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA--The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit Thursday against United Airlines, accusing the air carrier of discriminating against three reservations workers with disabilities.

According to a press release, Maria Lovell and Shelly Kia from the airline's Honolulu office and Janet Lawhead from its Seattle office had been allowed to work 20-hour work weeks since the 1980s as accommodations for their disabilities, which include multiple sclerosis, tendonitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome. But in 2003, the airline initiated a new policy requiring employees to work a minimum 30 hours per week.

The women said United required all reservation sales and service representatives who could not work at least 30 hours to either retire or go on leave -- then fired them when their leave expired. The suit, which could affect an entire class of employees nationwide, claims the 30-hour minimum violates the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.

Joan Ehrlich, director of the EEOC's San Francisco district, said in the news release: "Instead of making a good-faith effort to accommodate employees with disabilities as required by the ADA, United implemented a policy that simply jettisoned longtime workers."

A spokesperson for United Airlines said the company has followed the law and has made reasonable attempts to accommodate employees affected by the policy.

Copyright 2006 Inonit Publishing
Article reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express international disability rights news service. Please do not reprint, republish or forward without permission.