DALLAS — The Justice Department has filed a class-action lawsuit against American Airlines, claiming the carrier illegally denied benefits to pilots while they were serving in National Guard and reserve units.
The Justice Department said late Thursday that it filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Dallas on behalf of three Naval Reserve and Air National Guard pilots. Officials said it was the first time they had filed a class-action case charging an employer with violating a 1994 law designed to protect employees who leave their jobs temporarily to serve in military units.
The government charged that American conducted an audit in 2001 and cut benefits of pilots who took leave for military service but didn't reduce benefits of pilots on other types of leave.
"No reservists -- indeed, no members of our armed forces -- should ever be punished or discriminated against for answering the call of duty," said Wan J. Kim, assistant attorney general for civil rights.