Lawsuit Accuses Frontier Airlines Of Violating Rights Of Pregnant And Nursing Employees

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Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
The Frontier Airlines ticketing desk at Denver International Airport on Friday June 28 2019.

Pregnant pilots were forced to take unpaid leave once they were too close to their due dates to safely fly, and flight attendants had to give up breastfeeding after they weren't allowed to pump during their shifts.

Those are just a few of the accusations in legal filings against Frontier Airlines, with women alleging that the airline is violating federal protections for pregnant women and nursing mothers.

On Tuesday, the ACLU filed a pair of lawsuits against Frontier on behalf of pilot Randi Freyer and flight attendant Stacy Rewitzer. The women are also represented by the group Towards Justice and the law firm Holwell Shuster & Goldberg LLP.

The lawsuits allege that while Frontier finds work on the ground for other employees who temporarily can't fly, pregnant women don't get the same accommodation.

They also claim that the airline denies nursing mothers breaks or facilities to pump milk, forcing them to either give up breastfeeding, take unpaid leave or work long shifts without pumping. That can lead to breast infections and other discomforts.

Allison Sherry/CPR News
Pilot Randi Freyer, left, and flight attendant Stacy Rewitzer talk about the difficulties of continuing to work for Frontier Airlines and pump breastmilk after having babies. Rewitzer is on unpaid medical leave and Freyer is back at work but says it's extremely hard to find places to pump.

The case started as a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission several years ago. In a press release announcing the lawsuits, the ACLU accused Frontier of refusing to cooperate with that investigation, leading the group to take legal action.

“As a result of Frontier's head-in-the-sand approach to pregnancy, our clients have been forced to choose between a profession they love and their ability to give birth and care for themselves and their newborns,” attorney Sara Neel of the ACLU of Colorado said in a press release.

In response to the lawsuit, the airline said it is committed to treating its employees fairly, and pushed back against the claims in the lawsuit.

"Frontier offers a number of accommodations for pregnant and lactating pilots and flight attendants within the bounds of protecting public safety, which is always our top priority," the airline said in a statement. "Frontier denies the allegations and will defend vigorously against these lawsuits."

The ACLU said these are the first lawsuits of their kind against the airline industry.