According to a press release from the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission dated March 16, 2009, United Airlines has agreed to pay one of its disabled workers $850,000 to settle a claim of disability discrimination. The employee, Samuel Chetcuti, worked at the United San Francisco terminal. Mr. Chetcuti has epilepsy and, as a result, can only perform light work. However, his condition does not prohibit him from working overtime. Unfortunately for Mr. Chetcuti, his bosses at United prevented him from working overtime – even though doing so was in direct violation of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA).
According to the details of the settlement, not only must United pay out to Mr. Chetcuti, but the company also must investigate any other similar disability discrimination charges filed on behalf of its 52,000+ employees.
While at first blush, this violation of the ADA may seem relatively minor and “nitpicky” to the casual observer, it’s important to calculate the costs to workers. Overtime pay for service jobs in the airline industry can add up to a significant income per month; individuals who can physically do overtime work but who are unfairly denied the chance can suffer severe financial hardships for this lack of opportunity.
Hopefully, United’s proactive response to this matter will lead to a more rigorous adherence to ADA protocols among all airlines.