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United Continental Wins Dismissal of Black Pilots’ Suit

United Continental Holdings Inc. 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 can amend their complaint by May 20 to fix deficiencies that led to its dismissal yesterday. The suit failed to adequately support claims black pilots were precluded from applying to certain positions or adversely affected when the Chicago-based company doesn’t post some openings, she said.

“Judge Chesney granted the plaintiffs leave to amend their claims, which we agree with,” Dow Patten, an attorney for the pilots, said in an e-mail. “We are glad that the court recognized the coalition as a group rather than just a group of 23 individuals’ different claims.”

Twenty-three African-Americans, most of them captains, sued the airline last year, alleging that “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.

“United Airlines does not tolerate discrimination of any kind and we maintain that this lawsuit is without merit,” Megan McCarthy, a company spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

The case is Johnson v. United Continental Holdings Inc., 12-02730, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

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