Frontier Airlines has settled a lawsuit filed by female pilots who accused the carrier of discriminatory behavior towards pregnant or breastfeeding employees. The agreement was announced by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on December 5.
The Commission brought the discrimination action against Frontier in 2018, following several female pilots commencing their own legal action against the carrier.
As a result of the legal ruling going against the company, Denver-based Frontier said it will now let pilots who are breastfeeding reduce their flying time and treat pregnancy and breastfeeding the same as other medical conditions if they make pilots unable to fly.
The carrier will also permit female pilots to pump breast milk in the cockpit during “noncritical phases” of flights.
“This settlement should send a message to airlines and other employers about making reasonable accommodations to pregnant and breastfeeding employees,” said Aditi Fruitwala, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union. “We’re hopeful this will inspire more change and stronger protections for workers across the airline industry.”
“Frontier Airlines is at the forefront of accommodating the needs of pregnant and breastfeeding mothers in the airline industry,” said Frontier’s vice president for Labor Relations, Jacalyn Peter. She added that advances in wearable lactation technology made it possible to reach a settlement that maintains safety.
This latest round of legal wrangling follows another class action brought against the carrier in 2022. In that litigation, Frontier settled a similar lawsuit brought against it by a group of flight attendants. The employees said Frontier forced them to take unpaid leave for pregnancy-related absences and didn’t let them pump breast milk while working.
It is understood that while Frontier did not admit liability in settling the lawsuits brought by its Denver-based pilots, the airline agreed to comply with a current union agreement letting pregnant pilots fly if they have medical approval.
The airline also agreed to continue to let breastfeeding pilots reduce their schedules to 50 hours of flying per month and to update and make available a list of lactation facilities at airports.
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