DENVER -- Two flight attendants are filing discrimination complaint against Frontier Airlines after they say the company refused to let them breast-feed at work.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the Holwell Shuster & Golberg law firm filed the charges with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Tuesday.
“Federal and state laws require employers to provide accommodations for breast-feeding mothers and Frontier is not doing that,” ACLU staff attorney Sara Neel said.
“Flight attendants often work very long shifts, 10 to 12 hours and throughout that period of time if they’re breast-feeding their children they’re going to need to pump breast milk at work.”
One of the flight attendants at the center of the complaint, Stacy Rewitzer, has been with Frontier since May 2006. She became pregnant in August 2015.
According to the complaint, Rewitzer’s pregnancy was considered high risk and she stopped working under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
She gave birth to a baby boy on May 17, 2016 and planned to return to work in August.
“I approached Frontier, asking them to accommodate me with my breast-feeding needs with a sanitary place to breast-feed every two to three hours for 30 minutes at a time and they had nothing for me,” Rewitzer said.
“In the past, we used to be able to pump in the lavatories. They no longer allow that."
Rewitzer said she asked for a temporary ground work assignment instead, and her request was denied.
According to the discrimination complaint, Rewitzer claims she received an email from a manager stating Frontier “cannot offer any accommodations to nursing flight attendants."
The new mother said she was forced to choose between her job and her newborn.
“They could not accommodate me so I was put on nonpaid medical leave,” Rewitzer said.
She hasn’t had a paycheck since August.
“It’s been a financial stress for me, my family, emotionally and physically,” she said.
"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," a Frontier spokesman said in a statement.
"We have made good-faith efforts to identity and provide rooms and other secure locations for use by breast-feeding flight attendants during their duty travel."
However, the ACLU said it has received several complaints from other Frontier employees claiming when the airline has offered nursing rooms, they were either too far away from the gates, locked or didn’t have power outlets for the breast pumps.
“This is an industry-wide problem and there are some airlines that are doing a better job than others, but I think the ones that are doing a better job show that it can be done and the accommodations are possible,” Neel said.
Rewitzer is hoping her story encourages Frontier to change its policies and to fix a problem many other women face.
“Some moms have to choose between breast-feeding and their career and you shouldn’t have to do that,” she said.AlertMe