United Airlines has, for two years, sought to overturn a law which requires companies in the city of San Francisco to extend full benefits to the partners of gay and lesbian employees. The lawsuit, led the national airline industry group Air-Transport Association, claims that airline should only have follow federal government mandates, and be exempt from local laws.
This past April, a U.S. district judge ruled that the City of San Francisco cannot force United Airlines to provide health and pension benefits to the partners of its gay and lesbian employees, but that the Airline is responsible for lesser benefits like bereavement leave and travel perks. United Airlines is now suing for the right to avoid paying even these lesser benefits.
Activist Geoff Kors of Equal Benefits Advocates, the group which organized the “United Against United” boycott, said, “Every time someone flied United, a portion of their ticket price is used to fund United’s lawsuit to overturn San Francisco’s Equal Benefits Ordinance.”
Human Rights Campaign Executive Director Elizabeth Birth said of United Airline’s actions, “We have rarely seen anything so appalling in over a decade of gay and lesbian workplace organizing. It is particularly unconscionable that this airline is fighting bereavement leave for their employees. Clearly, United has redefined corporate irresponsibility and they ought to fasten their seat belts, because they should expect a great deal of turbulence in the upcoming months caused by their unfair treatment of gays and lesbians.”