The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Colorado, and the law firm Holwell Shuster & Goldberg LLP have filed discrimination charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of four female Frontier Airlines pilots who claim that the company’s policies discriminate against women by failing to provide accommodations related to pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Additional discrimination charges were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of two female flight attendants who claim that the company has also discriminated against them and other female flight attendants by failing to provide accommodations related to pregnancy and breastfeeding.
The flight attendants, Jo Roby, who has worked for Frontier for 13 years, and Stacy Rewitzer, who has worked for the airline since 2006, assert that despite their desire to return to work, they were forced onto unpaid leave after having their babies. When the two women sought accommodations that would enable them to pump breast milk, they were told that no accommodations were possible and were forbidden from pumping while on duty — although they typically work shifts over 10 hours long with back-to-back flights.Rewitzer also faced disciplinary action and risk of termination as a result of Frontier’s policy that penalizes pregnancy-related illness and absences.
The EEOC charges point to the lack of maternity leave at Frontier for flight attendants, who are limited to whatever unpaid time they have saved up under the Family Medical Leave Act, and accrued sick or vacation days. As a result, many flight attendants return to work when their babies are still nursing. Yet Frontier fails to make any accommodations for flight attendants who are breastfeeding to pump breast milk when they return to work.
The original discrimination charges were filed with the EEOC in May 2016 by four pilots, who have collectively worked for Frontier for 35 years. The pilots are Shannon Kiedrowski, who has worked for Frontier since 2002, Brandy Beck, who has worked there since 2003, and Erin Zielinski and Randi Freyer, who have worked there since 2013.
All six women—pilots and flight attendants—assert that Frontier’s policies violate state and federal laws against sex discrimination in employment because they treat pregnancy and breastfeeding less favorably than other medical conditions or disabilities and have a disproportionate effect on women. They also allege violations of the Colorado Workplace Accommodations for Nursing Mothers Act. The flight attendants further raise claims of disability discrimination for the company’s policy and practice of penalizing absences due to pregnancy-related complications.
The charges ask the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to require Frontier to take several steps to make it easier for pregnant and breastfeeding pilots and flight attendants, including providing clean and convenient accommodations for pumping while on duty, including on board during flight when necessary, during training, and at airports; allowing temporary alternative ground assignments; providing relief from the current strict attendance policy that penalizes flight attendants who miss work due to pregnancy; and offering meaningful parental leave for new parents.
Prior to filing both sets of charges, the ACLU and Holwell Shuster & Goldberg LLP reached out to Frontier requesting that Frontier implement policy changes to adequately accommodate pregnant and breastfeeding flight attendants, but Frontier has not done so.