American Airlines Adopts New Policy in Disability Discrimination Settlement

DALLAS - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and American Airlines have reached an agreement by which the airline will implement a policy to improve notification to job applicants with disabilities regarding the status of their applications.

In a suit, filed last year in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, the EEOC alleged that the major carrier based in Dallas-Ft. Worth violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to hire Karry Lawson for the position of Reservations Agent because of his disability, quadriplegia. The EEOC alleged that Mr. Lawson did not receive information as to whether a reasonable accommodation would be made to allow him to perform the Reservations job. The airline denies that it discriminated against Mr. Lawson and states that it was in the process of considering Mr. Lawson’s application for employment before he filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC.

As part of the settlement, American Airlines has revised its current application procedures to notify job applicants with disabilities for reservation agent positions at its Southern Reservations Office of the status of their requests for accommodation at specific times during the application process. American Airlines and the EEOC also reached a mutually satisfactory resolution of terms of individual relief for Mr. Lawson.

Robert A. Canino, Regional Attorney of the EEOC’s Dallas District office, said: “American Airlines’ policy change demonstrates its commitment to employing persons whose disabilities do not preclude them from performing valuable customer service functions. This agreement is significant in that it embodies the EEOC’s message of how we can all work together to promote a ‘freedom to compete’ in the job market.”

“While we are disappointed that this matter proceeded to litigation, we are nonetheless pleased that it has been resolved,” said Lauri Curtis, vice president of Reservations and executive sponsor of American`s Employees with Disabilities Resource Group. “Our record for hiring persons with disabilities, especially in Reservations, speaks for itself.”


EEOC has enforcement authority for the employment provision of the ADA (Title I), which prohibits private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, discharge, advancement, compensation, job training and other terms and conditions of employment.