EEOC Sues United Airlines For Pilot’s Right To Choose Refuge Recovery

LOS ANGELES, July 21, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit yesterday accusing United Airlines…

LOS ANGELES, July 21, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit yesterday accusing United Airlines of discrimination for requiring a pilot with alcoholism to attend Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings despite his objection to their alleged religious nature.

In a complaint filed in the United States District Court for New Jersey, the EEOC said United refused to allow the pilot, David Disbrow, to instead attend meetings of the Buddhist-oriented support group, Refuge Recovery, in order to earn back a medical certificate he needed to fly. (EEOC v. United Airlines Inc., Civil Action No. 20-cv-9110)

Refuge Recovery is a non-profit, peer-led program of recovery from all forms of addiction. Refuge Recovery World Services is not a party to this lawsuit. It does not take positions in legal matters where it is not a party.

However, Refuge Recovery strongly supports the availability of multiple approaches to recovery. Our program is grounded in the belief, based on over a decade of its own experience, as well as multiple studies, that the Refuge Recovery principles and practices create a strong foundation for the addiction recovery process, especially for those seeking choice among recovery programs. We believe Refuge Recovery’s inclusion as a recommended support community, in employers’ individual and professional occupational substance abuse programs, is beneficial to their employees.

In a clinical study supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the late Dr. Alan Marlatt, from the Addictive Behaviors Research Center, Department of Psychology University of Washington, joined other researchers in observing the effects of a post-treatment program of mindfulness meditation. Dr. Marlatt concluded that patients who continued to meditate in supportive communities after treatment had a higher rate of recovery. By contrast, the study found that where patients did not continue to meditate in supportive communities, they usually ended up relapsing, in accordance with “TAU” or “Treatment as Usual” statistics.

We have reached out to United Airlines in an effort to educate the company about the merits of our program.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, peer-led Refuge Recovery meetings, which are critical to our mindfulness meditation-based approach to recovery, are now available for free online, seven days a week and in all US time zones, at In those meetings, as in all Refuge Recovery meetings, participants are offered guided meditation, a reading from the HarperCollins book, “Refuge Recovery: A Buddhist Path to Recovery from Addiction,” an opportunity to share their personal accounts from the front lines of the battle for recovery, and perhaps most importantly, an ongoing support network for all who wish to pursue and maintain an addiction free life.

The international network of Refuge Recovery meetings is strong and growing every week. More information is available on our website at, and on our two main Facebook pages with the @refugerecovery handle.

Press Contact:

Joseph Souhrada, Refuge Recovery World Services

Los Angeles, California

+1 (206) 913-9625 

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