Employers in California and around the country are prohibited from discriminating against pregnant women by the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and protections for breastfeeding mothers were added to the Fair Labor Standards Act in 2010. A lawsuit recently filed by a group of female flight attendants and pilots accuses Frontier Airlines of violating these laws. The women say that they were forced to take unpaid leave while they were pregnant and were denied reasonable breastfeeding accommodations.
A flight attendant alleges in the workplace discrimination lawsuit that she went months without a paycheck before her two children were born, and a pilot says that she was told that she would no longer be able to fly unless she agreed to stop pumping milk during flights. The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission reports that it has received similar complaints about the Colorado-based airline in the past. The women are being represented by attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union.
A Frontier representative denied the allegations and said that the airline does what it can to accommodate pregnant and lactating employees while ensuring passengers remain safe. The industry has faced criticism in the past over gender discrimination. In 2017, Delta Airlines settled a similar lawsuit filed by a breastfeeding flight attendant. However, some carriers are taking a more enlightened approach. Federal law requires employers to allow new mothers to take 12 weeks of leave, United Airlines extends this to 12 months of unpaid leave.
Workplace protections for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers are even more comprehensive in California, and attorneys with experience in a pregnancy discrimination cases may seek to hold employers financially responsible when these standards are not met. This kind of litigation can anger consumers and embarrass companies, which is why attorneys could urge employers to avoid publicity by settling these matters at the negotiating table.