Turning A Blind Eye On Discrimination?
After 16 years of legal wrangling, a Hawaiian pilot who's blind in one eye has been told to start over again in his bid for compensation from an airline that refused to hire him. Bruce Pied has maintained a valid ATP rating for the full 16 years (one of more than 200 one-eyed ATPs on the FAA's register, according to The Associated Press), worked for other airlines (he amassed more than 1,200 multi hours) and, at one point, was awarded $1.4 million in compensation by the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission over Aloha Island Air's (now Island Air) decision not to hire him, according to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin,. The airline, which appealed the commission ruling, says it's free to hire whom it chooses and even though the eye problem was the reason they chose not to hire Pied, it's not discrimination because according to the FAA he's not disabled. Now, the Hawaii Supreme Court has "cleared the record" on the case and ordered a new jury trial to start from scratch. Pied, now 53, lost sight in his eye from a bout of shingles when he was a teenager but that didn't stop him from playing sports or learning to fly. The affected eye follows the good eye and appears normal. In 1990, Pied got a job offer from Aloha Island but, when he voluntarily informed the airline about the eye (he didn't have to), the offer was rescinded. The airline maintains that it has the right to hire the safest pilots possible and, even if Pied can prove that the blind eye is the reason he wasn't hired, he has no recourse because he's proven the condition is not a disability. Pied's lawyer said the situation isn't as unusual as it seems and crops up frequently in discrimination cases. "Their argument is that Mr. Pied is not disabled. Therefore, they can discriminate against him," he told the Star-Bulletin.