Four pilots with Frontier Airlines have filed a complaint alleging Frontier's policies discriminate against women by failing to provide accommodations related to pregnancy and breast-feeding.
The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Colorado and the law firm Holwell Shuster & Goldberg LLP filed the complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of the women.
"The pilots, who have collectively worked for Frontier for 35 years, assert that despite their dedication to their jobs, the airline’s failure to accommodate their pumping needs made it extremely difficult for them to continue breast-feeding their babies once they returned to work," the ACLU said in a statement sent to Denver7.
"We love our jobs as pilots for Frontier Airlines and we shouldn’t have to choose between our jobs and breast-feeding our children,” said pilot Shannon Kiedrowski. “But because of the lack of accommodations for pregnancy and breast-feeding, that is exactly the position each of us has been put in. We’re bringing this complaint because no woman should have to go through what we went through.”
Kiedrowski wrote a blog about the struggles of finding time and places to pump.
"Rather than support me, company management questioned my parenting choices as well as my commitment to my career," Kiedrowski wrote. "They even questioned why I didn’t switch to formula."
The ACLU said Kiedrowski was disciplined after a co-pilot complained that she had used a breast pump on the aircraft.
The ACLU said Frontier forces pregnant pilots to take eight to 10 weeks of unpaid leave before their due date, allows a maximum of 120 days of maternity leave (all of it unpaid), and fails to make any accommodations to enable pilots who are breast-feeding to pump breast milk when they return to work.
Read the complaint.
The ACLU is asking the EEOC to require Frontier to take several steps to make it easier for pregnant pilots and pilots who are breast-feeding, including that Frontier provide women the option of taking a temporary alternative assignment that would permit them to continue working during pregnancy or breast-feeding; designate places where a pilot who is breast-feeding can pump; and allow pilots who are breast-feeding to pump on the aircraft when necessary.
The ACLU and the law firm said it sent Frontier a letter asking for changes, before filing the complaint, but Frontier never responded.
Tuesday afternoon, Frontier Airlines issued the following statement regarding the ACLU complaint:
"Our policies and practices comply with all federal and state laws as well as with the relevant provisions of the collective bargaining agreement between Frontier and its pilots group. While there are many work places that might allow for nursing mothers to express breast milk during a break from work activities, the duties of a commercial airline pilot present unique circumstances. We have made good-faith efforts to identity and provide rooms and other secure locations for use by breast-feeding pilots during their duty travel."