United Airlines Parent Company Settles Bias Claim

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The United States Department of Justice said Tuesday that United Continental Holdings Inc. has settled a claim that Continental Airlines discriminated against employees who were legal permanent residents of the United States but weren’t U.S. citizens.

According to The Associated Press, the Justice Department said that Continental asked legal permanent residents to fill out extra forms and show proof of eligibility to work after they were hired and didn’t make the same demands of U.S. citizens.

Immigration law prohibits any actions from employers that place extra burdens of documentation on work-authorized employees based on their citizenship status.

United Continental agreed to pay the $215,000 penalty, set up a $55,000 fund for back pay for affected workers for lost wages, and undergo training on anti-discrimination provisions of immigration law.

A United spokesperson said the incident was the result of an administrative error without any intent to discriminate.

In another case in 2010, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released a press release stating that United Airlines agreed to settle in a disability discrimination lawsuit, paying $600,000 to a group of reservation agents with disabilities, ending its blanket policy of reduced hourly schedules, and provide training to staffers who administer United’s reasonable accommodation process.

One worker said of the changes, “Contributing 25 years of work, in a way compatible with my health, was positive for me, for United and for society. A sweeping policy that disregards individual circumstances doesn’t give someone like me a chance to do my job. I took my case to the EEOC, and I'm glad to know that United is going to stop its blanket policy on work hours.”