Frontier discriminates against breastfeeding flight attendants, ACLU says

A Frontier Airlines plan at Denver International Airport. (Courtesy of Frontier Airlines)
A Frontier Airlines plan at Denver International Airport. (Courtesy of Frontier Airlines)
A Frontier Airlines plane at Denver International Airport. (Courtesy of Frontier Airlines)

Two female flight attendants for Denver-based Frontier Airlines say the company refuses to give them breastfeeding accommodations and forced them into unpaid leave, according to a formal complaint filed by the ACLU and others on Tuesday. 

Flight attendants Jo Roby and Stacy Rewitzer say that they were forced onto unpaid leave after having their babies, despite their desire to continue working, according to the ACLU’s complaint.

Additionally, when they returned, the two women were forbidden from pumping while on duty and told that no accommodations were possible for breastfeeding. Because the flight attendants typically work shifts over 10 hours long, that created problems. For women who are breastfeeding, going a long time without either nursing or pumping can be extremely painful and cause long-term problems with milk supply.

“No one should have to choose between being the mom she wants to be and pursuing the career she loves,” said Roby in the ACLU release. She has worked for Frontier for 13 years.

The Family and Medical Leave Act allows up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, so many women return to work when their babies are still nursing.

This isn’t the first time that Frontier has faced allegations of breastfeeding-related discrimination. Roughly a year ago, a similar complaint was filed by the ACLU on behalf of four female Frontier pilots.

One of those pilots, Randi Freyer, is still breastfeeding and submitted additional allegations Tuesday. Freyer says that Frontier has denied Freyer’s request for schedule modifications and provided an inadequate and incomplete list of locations to pump.

Prior to filing these charges, the ACLU and others say that they requested that policy changes from Frontier, but say that Frontier has not made any.

“It’s time for Frontier to start addressing the needs of pregnant and breastfeeding workers — both inside and outside the flight deck,” said Galen Sherwin, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Women’s Rights Project in the ACLU release. “How is it that a job that is majority female still fails to take into account pregnancy and breastfeeding? ”

Frontier spokesperson Jim Faulkner provided the following statement via email:

“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 flight attendant group.  We have made good-faith efforts to identity and provide rooms and other secure locations for use by breastfeeding flight attendants during their duty travel.”