December 2022 Church & State Magazine

Buddhist Pilot Wins Religious Discrimination Lawsuit

  Buddhist Pilot Wins Religious Discrimination Lawsuit

A Buddhist pilot who declined to attend Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings to treat his substance abuse has won a settlement with United Airlines, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced last month.

After the pilot was diagnosed with alcohol dependency, he lost a required medical certificate issued by the Federal Aviation Administration and could not work. As a condition of regaining the certificate, United required him to attend an AA program.

The pilot objected to the religious content of the program and offered to attend a Buddhist-based peer-support group instead. United rejected this program.

The EEOC sued on the pilot’s behalf, and the case was recently settled out of court. According to a press release issued by the EEOC, United will pay the pilot $305,000 in back pay and damages, and the airline will allow him to attend the Buddhist-based program. United also agreed to institute a new policy on religious accom­modations and train its employees accordingly.


Americans United & the National Women’s Law Center file suit to challenge Missouri’s abortion bans.

Abortion bans violate the separation of church and state. Americans United and the National Women’s Law Center—the leading experts in religious freedom and gender justice—have joined forces with thirteen clergy from six faith traditions to challenge Missouri’s abortion bans as unconstitutionally imposing one narrow religious doctrine on everyone.

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