A pilot is suing United Airlines after being terminated shortly after he was grounded because he struggled to discern different colors while flying at night.
Damon Meyer of Portland, Maine, was hired by United on 12th April 2022, but his employment was terminated less than two months later when he filed a claim for long-term disability through an insurance plan he had just been enrolled in.
According to public records, Damon Meyer once set a world record for a cross-country flight in a single-engine prop aircraft. Meyer set the record after flying his tiny Canard prop plane between Ontario, California and Portland in 2015 by keeping the specially modified aircraft aloft for more than 12 hours.
Meyer has been a qualified pilot for many years, but he only decided to pursue a career as a commercial airline pilot in 2020 after transitioning from a long career in the information technology sector.
In 2022, Meyer secured a job as a pilot with United Airlines and was enrolled in the airline’s long-term disability plan a short time later.
Less than a month after being hired, however, the lawsuit says Meyer was forced to ground himself because he was having trouble discerning different colors. This was particularly an issue while flying at night because he couldn’t determine the colors of signals on taxiways.
A day after being grounded and only six days after being enrolled in the insurance plan, Meyer filed a claim through United’s long-term disability program.
United Airlines terminated Meyer’s employment the following month, claiming that Meyer would “not have met the requirements for a valid medical license at the time he was hired” – a claim that Meyer says is a “ludicrous theory”.
Meyer contests the reason for termination, saying that not only did he hold a valid medical license when United hired him but that there is no medical evidence that his eyesight problems existed before United offered him the job.
The lawsuit says it is “purely speculative” that Meyer would have failed a medical review if he had had one just before being hired by United.
The administrators of the long-term disability plan initially approved Meyer’s claims but withdrew the payout because his employment had been terminated.
Meyer has filed his lawsuit in a Maine district court, demanding that United and the administrators of the long-term disability plan pay him benefits for his color blindness. The lawsuit says Meyer remains “totally disabled”.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.