Frontier Airlines, the Denver-based budget airline company, says it will update and clarify its policies on lactating and pregnancy after reaching a settlement with several of its pilots and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The pilots filed a complaint with the EEOC in 2018 and filed a lawsuit the following year against Frontier, saying the company discriminated against pregnant and lactating employees. Frontier denied those claims at the time.
Frontier agreed to the settlement, in part, so as not to admit liability. The airline will now allow pilots to pump breastmilk during “non-critical” portions of flights. It will also allow pregnant pilots to fly, so long as they are medically certified, and offer temporary ground assignments or medical leave for those who can’t fly.
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The settlement was hailed as a victory for gender equality by civil rights organizations, such as the ACLU, which filed the 2019 lawsuit on behalf of the pilots, along with the law office of Holwell Shuster & Goldberg LLP, and Towards Justice.
“Many companies purport to be family-friendly but fail to provide any support to employees who are pregnant or lactating. We’re so proud we could come to an agreement that will benefit pregnant and lactating workers now and into the future,” Aditi Fruitwala, a staff attorney for the ACLU’s Center for Liberty, said in a statement. “This settlement should serve as a strong message to employers – especially airline employers – that reasonable accommodations such as those agreed to by Frontier Airlines are good for workers, good for families, good for business, and required by the law. We’re hopeful this will inspire more change and stronger protections for workers across the airline industry.”
Brandy Beck, a Frontier pilot, talked about the workers’ reasons for suing in a video produced by the ACLU at the time of the lawsuit.
“I asked, you know, ‘can I pump in…