DENVER- Frontier Airlines (F9) has agreed to resolve a federal lawsuit brought forth by five pilots who alleged discrimination based on pregnancy and breastfeeding.
As part of the settlement, Frontier will permit pilots to pump breast milk in the cockpit during noncritical phases of a flight and will review and update existing policies to ensure compliance with the needs of pregnant and lactating employees.
Frontier Airlines Lawsuit with Pilots
According to a news release on Monday from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ACLU of Colorado, the legal nonprofit Towards Justice, and the firm Holwell Shuster & Goldberg, Frontier is among the first airlines to allow pilots to pump breast milk during flights.
The settlement, stemming from a lawsuit filed in December 2019, is stated not to imply any admission of liability by Frontier, as mentioned in the news release.
In a statement, Aditi Fruitwala, a staff attorney at the ACLU Center for Liberty, expressed pride in reaching an agreement that will benefit pregnant and lactating workers both presently and in the future.
“This settlement should convey a powerful message to employers, especially those in the airline industry, that reasonable accommodations, such as those agreed to by Frontier, are not only beneficial for workers, families, and business but are also mandated by the law,” Fruitwala stated.
“We are optimistic that this will inspire further change and establish stronger protections for workers throughout the airline industry.”
Two lawsuits, filed in December 2019 by Colorado-based pilots and flight attendants, asserted that Frontier’s policies and practices were discriminatory.
This included allegations of prohibiting women from pumping while in uniform, disciplining them for seeking breastfeeding-related accommodations, forcing employees onto unpaid leave during pregnancies, and preventing them from seeking accommodations that could have allowed them to remain on the job.
All the affected women were associated with flights departing from Denver International Airport (DEN).
As per the news release, Frontier Airlines has committed to:
- Adhering to an existing union agreement allowing pregnant pilots to fly with medical certification;
- Clearly stating that pilots unable to fly due to pregnancy or lactation will receive accommodations on the same terms as those with other medical conditions preventing them from flying;
- Continuing to permit breastfeeding pilots to reduce their flight time to 50 hours per month and
- Maintaining a list of airport lactation facilities published on an internal website, updated every six months.
The flight attendants’ lawsuit was reportedly settled in April 2022 under comparable terms, as per the ACLU.
Frontier’s Vice President of Labor Relations, Jacalyn Peter, conveyed pride in the company’s role at the forefront of accommodating the needs of pregnant and breastfeeding mothers in the airline industry. Peter attributed the amicable resolution, in part, to advancements in wearable lactation technology while emphasizing the commitment to the highest safety standards.
Representatives for Frontier Airlines, the ACLU, and the ACLU of Colorado declined further comment on the settlement beyond the statements provided in the news release.
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