Frontier Airlines to make allowances for pregnant and breastfeeding pilots  

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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. The original lawsuit was filed by law firm Holwell Shuster & Goldberg LLP, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Colorado, and the Towards Justice organization.

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 ACLU. “We’re hopeful this will inspire more change and stronger protections for workers across the airline industry.” 

“Today’s settlement accomplishes a vital goal – ensuring that expectant and new mothers are treated with the fairness and respect they deserve,” said Jayme Jonat, partner at Holwell Shuster & Goldberg LLP and a member of the litigation team representing the pilots. “We are proud to have played a role in accomplishing that goal and participating in this groundbreaking litigation, which we hope will influence employer behavior throughout the airline industry and beyond.”

“Colorado law offers even stronger protections than federal law for pregnant and lactating workers in our state. The ACLU of Colorado is proud this settlement will lead to Frontier providing necessary accommodations to pregnant and breastfeeding workers and putting families first,” said Sara Neel, Managing Attorney for the ACLU of Colorado.

“Our clients took a huge risk by taking their claims public. After years of litigation, they’ve helped effect a genuine change for themselves and future Frontier pilots, making the workplace better for working parents,” said Juno Turner, Litigation Director at Towards Justice.

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. 

“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. 

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