January 20, 1996 in City

Twin Sisters Sue Airlines Over Sight Rule Spokane Pilots Say United Violates Federal Anti-Bias Law

Karen Abbott Rocky Mountain News
 

Twin sisters from Spokane, both pilots, sued United Airlines on Friday for requiring its pilots to have 20/20 vision without glasses or contact lenses.

Kimberly Hinton and Karen Sutton claim in their Denver U.S. District Court suit that the requirement violates the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The federal Equal Employment Opportunities Commission authorized the sisters to sue United after determining that the airline probably had violated the disabilities act, the lawsuit says.

Tony Molinaro of United confirmed that the airline requires its pilots to have perfect vision without corrective lenses.

Molinaro declined to comment on the suit, which airline officials had not seen.

The sisters, in their 30s, are pilots for regional airlines.

Both have earned credentials that surpass United’s requirements, according to their lawsuit.

Both have 20/20 vision or better with corrective lenses, the suit says.

Hinton’s applications to United were twice rejected because of her vision.

But when she applied a third time - after the disabilities act took effect in 1990 - United invited her to Denver for testing and interviews, the suit says.

Hinton did well on the flight-simulator test and was beginning her interview when a United employee realized her vision was not perfect without corrective lenses, the suit says.

The interviewer told her the company had made a “terrible, terrible mistake,” then dismissed her, the lawsuit says.

Sutton also applied to United after the disabilities act became law and was invited to Denver for interviews and testing.

She, too, was rejected because of her eyesight, the suit contends.

The sisters seek the jobs they were denied, an end to United’s eyesight requirement, lost pay, compensation for lost hours of flight experience and attorneys’ fees and costs.


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