Flight attendants at Frontier Airlines have won the right to pump breast milk with wearable lactation devices during flights after the airline settled a lawsuit brought by a group of flight attendants against their employer.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado (ACLU) brought the case on behalf of the flight attendants alleging that Frontier discriminated against pregnant and lactating crew members. The case was filed in 2019 and has only now been resolved after a settlement agreement that doesn’t admit any liability was reached.
The flight attendants claimed that Frontier’s policies forced them to unpaid take time off work in order to breastfeed but through “advances in wearable lactation technology” the airline will now flight attendants to pump milk on the job.
“I’m glad that flight attendants who want to breastfeed will be given the time and space to pump breast milk in a healthy, sanitary way,” said Melissa Hodgkins, a Frontier flight attendant who was part of the group who took the airline to court.
“Future flight attendants won’t have to worry about how they are going to fit in pumping between flights or winder where they will be able to pump safely,” Melissa continued.
“I gave up breastfeeding to provide for my family, and no one should have to make that choice again.”
Under the settlement agreement, flight attendants will be allowed to pump milk inflight using wearable lactation devices. The airline will also maintain a list of approved lactation facilities at its base locations and won’t subject pregnant or breastfeeding crew members to disciplinary proceedings for qualifying absences.
“Today’s settlement sends a message to the rest of the airline industry, and to businesses around the country, that providing basic accommodations for breastfeeding workers is both smart and doable,” commented Galen Sherwin, senior staff attorney at the ACLU’s women’s rights project.
“Other airlines should follow Frontier’s lead and ensure that their flight crew don’t have to give up breastfeeding in order to keep doing the jobs they love.”
The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) which represents Frontier crew members has called on airlines to allow flight attendants to pump milk on the job.
The union claims some airlines are lobbying the federal government to exclude flight attendants from new legislation that will guarantee new mothers “reasonable break time” to pump milk.
The union has declined to name the airlines that have been lobbying for the exemption.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.