United Airlines to pay $305,000 to a Buddhist pilot who refused to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings

United Airline’s HIMS program requires pilots to attend AA conferences if they’re identified with an alcohol dependency.Justin Sullivan / Getty Photos

  • United Airways can pay $305,000 to a Buddhist pilot who refused to attend AA on spiritual grounds.

  • That call meant he misplaced his medical certificates and was now not permitted to fly.

  • United agreed to accommodate workers from non-Christian faiths in its program sooner or later.

United Airways can pay $305,000 to a Buddhist pilot who refused to attend conferences organised by the Christian-focused Alcoholics Nameless (AA) program.

The US Equal Employment Alternative Fee (EEOC) stated in a press launch that the airline discriminated in opposition to the pilot, who was identified with alcohol dependency, on spiritual grounds when it failed to supply another path after he refused to attend AA conferences citing its spiritual undertones.

The person, who had been a pilot for 30 years, misplaced the medical certificates issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) after his prognosis. A step to regaining the certification in United’s HIMS occupational substance abuse remedy program entails attending AA conferences.

He objected, citing the spiritual facets of AA’s 12-step program, which has its origins in a Christian group, per the group’s FAQ web page. United rejected his suggestion of utilizing the Buddhism-based peer assist group Refuge Restoration as a substitute, the fee stated.

The choice violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the premise of faith, per the fee, which sued the airline on the person’s behalf in 2020, The Related Press reported on the time.

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To resolve the lawsuit, United can pay the pilot $305,000 in again pay and damages and reinstate him into its HIMS program whereas permitting him to attend a non-12-step peer restoration program. It should additionally settle for spiritual lodging in its program sooner or later.

“Employers have the affirmative obligation to switch their insurance policies to accommodate staff’ spiritual beliefs,” stated EEOC New York regional legal professional Jeffrey Burstein. “In the event that they require their staff to attend AA as a part of a rehabilitation program, they need to ensure that they permit for options for his or her staff who’ve spiritual objections to AA.”

A spokesperson for United advised Insider: “Concerning the EEOC, security is our prime precedence and now we have the best confidence within the HIMS program, thought-about the gold commonplace inside our trade for the monitoring of substance abuse.”

The EEOC enforces federal legal guidelines prohibiting employment discrimination.

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