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Continental Suit Settlement OK’d

October 31, 1997

SEATTLE (AP) _ A federal judge has approved a multi-million dollar settlement in an age-discrimination lawsuit filed against Continental Airlines.

Houston-based Continental will pay $6 million in cash and an additional $1 million to $2 million in flight benefits in a deal approved Thursday by U.S. District Judge William Dwyer.

Each member of the class action is expected to receive an average of $20,000, plaintiffs lawyers say.

``Today’s court decision makes it clear that companies cannot cut costs on the backs of their oldest and most experienced workers,″ said J. Richard Creatura, a lawyer with a Tacoma, Wash., firm representing the plaintiffs. ``If they try, they will pay.″

Continental spokeswoman Catherine Stengel declined comment Friday.

The lawsuit accused Continental of discriminating against its oldest and most senior airport workers when it replaced them with younger, lower-paid new hires for America West Airlines.

The two airlines entered into an agreement in August 1994 to share some ground-handling functions at airports. That had the effect of replacing senior employees at Continental with new hires of America West.

Creatura said the employees were told their existing jobs were being taken over by America West, and they had the choice of either applying with America West to continue servicing the same Continental flights, at half their previous pay, or moving to another city to work for Continental.

Continental spokeswoman Catherine Stengel declined comment Friday.

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