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United Continental Wins Dismissal of Black Pilots’ Suit

United Continental Holdings Inc. (UAL) won dismissal of a discrimination lawsuit by black pilots who alleged that the airline offers minority employees fewer promotions to upper management than whites.

U.S. District Judge Maxine Chesney in San Francisco said the pilots could file an amended complaint by May 20 to fix deficiencies in the lawsuit that led to the dismissal, according to an order yesterday. The plaintiffs failed to present enough information to support claims that black pilots are adversely affected when the Chicago-based company doesn’t post some positions and were precluded from applying to certain positions, she said.

Twenty-three African-Americans, most of whom are captains, sued the airline last year alleging “highly subjective decision making” about promotions discriminated against minority captains.

Black pilots are subject to a “dual employment track” and given part-time jobs with less job security and opportunity for promotions, while non-minority employees get full-time, higher- wage positions, according to the the complaint.

Dow Patten, an attorney for the pilots, didn’t immediately respond after regular business hours yesterday to an e-mail message seeking comment on the ruling.

The case is Johnson v. United Continental Holdings Inc., 12-2730, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

To contact the reporter on this story: Karen Gullo in San Francisco at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at

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