Frontier Airlines settles lawsuit filed by pilots who claimed bias over pregnancy, breastfeeding

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
A Frontier Airlines jet taxis to a runway, Denver International Airport, Nov. 1, 2023.

Frontier Airlines has settled a lawsuit filed by female pilots who accused the airline of discriminating against pregnant or breastfeeding employees.

In the agreement announced Tuesday, Frontier will let pilots pump breast milk in the cockpit during “noncritical phases” of flights.

The Denver-based airline also agreed to 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 settlement was announced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The agency lodged charges against Frontier in 2018, after several pilots sued the airline.

Aditi Fruitwala, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, one of the groups that filed the lawsuit, said the settlement should send a message to airlines and other employers about making reasonable accommodations to pregnant and breastfeeding employees.

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

Frontier's vice president for labor relations, Jacalyn Peter, said the airline is “at the forefront of accommodating the needs of pregnant and breastfeeding mothers in the airline industry.” She said advances in wearable lactation technology made it possible to reach a settlement that maintains safety.

Last year, Frontier settled a similar lawsuit by 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.

Frontier did not admit liability in settling the lawsuits. In the case involving Denver-based pilots, the airline also 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.