A group of 18 African-American pilots for United Airlines are holding a press conference with civil rights leaders to urge Congress and the U.S. Department of Justice to launch a federal investigation into the hiring, promoting, training, discipline, diversity and equal employment practices of United Airlines.
According to the pilots, United Airlines has had a complete and utter lack of diversity at the management level and a systemic culture of racism that has inhibited African-Americans from obtaining managerial positions.
The pilots have pursued legal action and their civil rights claims are pending against United Airlines in federal courts around the country over the company’s treatment of African-Americans. The pilots have formed a group called The United Coalition for Diversity (the “Coalition”), represented by Mildenberg Law Firm.
The Coalition pilots allege that white pilots have disparagingly referred to African-American pilots as “consent decree hires” and “equal opportunity hires.” In addition, in one pilot’s case, currently pending in federal court in Houston, TX (Case No. 15-cv-00474-VC), a photograph of a black man being lynched by a group of white supremacists was placed in the black United pilot’s United Airlines Flight Office mailbox, in Houston, with a note, “How to Move Up in Seniority at United Airlines.”
In another case (1:13-cv-01125-LMB-TRJ), a paper was left in the mailbox of an African-American Flight Attendant. This paper was called a “N**ger Tag – Federal N**ger Hunting License,” declaring that the holder was “licensed to hunt & kill N**GERS during the open search hereof in the U.S.” and purported to give “the holder permission to hunt day or night, with or without dogs.” A hand-drawn image of a person hanging from a pole or a tree appeared on one corner of the document, along with the words “this is for you.”
Dr. Cornel West will join the pilots at the press conference set for Thursday, September 15, at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Also in attendance will be black aviation pioneers who fought a national civil rights battle to bring blacks on board to United and other airlines, who will speak to the ongoing lack of progress by United Airlines in this area, and who will support the call for Congressional investigation of racism against black pilots and other persons of color at United Airlines.
“It is time for all pilots to be provided with Equal Opportunities, regardless of the color of their skin,” said Brian R. Mildenberg, attorney for the pilots. “According to the coalition pilots, the executive leadership of United Airlines has failed over the years to integrate the airline and remedy the serious concerns of racial discrimination against black pilots that have plagued United for more than two decades.”