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Workers Can Sue Airline for Presuming Their Guilt

(CN) - American Airlines must face a defamation lawsuit from employees who say they were wrongfully accused of racial discrimination.

John Sullivan, David Virella and Vincent Argentine ran for election as officers of Local 501 of the Transport Workers Union. During the contentious campaign, the candidates were accused of distributing racially insensitive cartoons.

American Airlines fired the candidates under the company's zero-tolerance policy for discriminatory language and behavior.

Though the candidates were reinstated after filing grievances, they also sued the airline for defamation, claiming that the company distributed flyers announcing their guilt.

A trial court refused to dismiss the case, and the second department of the New York appeals court in Brooklyn also found that the candidates should go to trial.

"The defendants failed to establish, prima facie, that American did not publish the flyers which announced the plaintiffs were guilty of discrimination," the unsigned decision states.

"The defendants offered no evidence in their initial papers in support of their motion for summary judgment as to how the flyers got inside a bulletin board to which only American held the keys," the justices added.

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