Two pilots have sued United Airlines, claiming they were illegally fired after the company learned they have the AIDS virus.
“United forced two airline pilots into medical retirement based on unfounded fears and stereotypes,” lawyer Peter F. Laura said at a news conference Tuesday.
Laura represents R. Christopher Prilliman, who was fired last year along with Paul Rafalowski.
Prilliman, 38, was fired in October and Rafalowski, 33, in June. Both had worked for the airline for nine years and were still flying planes when they were fired.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court Friday, seeks unspecified damages under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Laura said the lawsuit was aimed at forcing reforms of United and Federal Aviation Administration policies.
Dr. Gary Kohn, medical director at United’s Chicago headquarters, said the FAA informed the airline that the pilots had several health conditions that mandated their dismissal under agency regulations.
He referred further questions to FAA regional offices in Illinois.
The pilots said they had signed releases allowing their personal physician to disclose, if asked, that they have AIDS.
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