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United Sued By The Feds

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Jun 5, 2009 2:40PM

2009_06_05_United.jpg The federal government has sued United Airlines for making it too difficult for workers who became disabled to switch to jobs they could more easily perform. The lawsuit, filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission office in San Francisco, currently has five plaintiffs but that number could grow. EEOC attorney William Tamayo said, "We expect that other people will come out of the woodwork as the case gets more publicity." According to the Associated Press:

The lawsuit accuses United of "malicious and reckless conduct" and seeks lost wages and punitive damages for victims and an order that United stop discriminating against disabled workers.

The EEOC said one example is a former mechanic named Joel Boswell who worked for United in San Francisco for more than 10 years before being diagnosed with a brain tumor. After getting medical treatment, he could no longer work as a mechanic, and the EEOC said United refused to hire him for other jobs for which he was qualified. It said he went on extended, involuntary leave until retiring in late 2008.

United issued a statement, saying, "[the] EEOC is seemingly asking us, and other companies, to disregard the right of individuals who may be fundamentally more qualified for a position, and favor candidates who are less qualified for specific roles."