Two flight attendants are standing up for their rights as breastfeeding employees and mothers, and have filed sex discrimination charges against their employer, Frontier Airlines.
Frontier employees, Jo Roby and Stacy Rewitzer, have been with the airline for over ten years, and both say that Frontier’s policy forbidding employees from pumping breast milk while on duty discriminates against them and has forced them to take excessive unpaid leave.
Roby said that nobody should have to choose between mothering the way she wants and pursuing a career she loves, and is bringing the charges against the company for not only her family but future flight attendants and their families as well.
In May of last year, four Frontier pilots also submitted complaints against the company saying that the airline would not allow them to pump breast milk while on duty, nor follow Colorado law, which mandates a private pumping area for nursing mothers. The complaints also include that the mothers’ rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act were violated. That act states that women who are affected by pregnancy or childbirth should be treated the same as men for employment-related purposes.
For their part, Frontier says that they do comply with state and federal law, and that they have made good faith efforts to provide rooms for nursing flight attendants to use while on travel duty. Roby and Rewitzer have a different reality, however, as they complain that they tried multiple times to request accommodations for pumping milk and schedules that met both the airlines’ and the mothers’ needs.
In fact, Roby claims she was told by a superior that she needed to take a leave of absence if she wanted to breastfeed, despite Roby telling that superior she planned to nurse for up to two years.
Galen Sherwin, who is a senior staff attorney with the ACLU Women’s Right Project and involved with supporting the women’s’ complaints says he cannot understand how a job that is majority female does not have better provisions to take basic tenets of life like pregnancy and breastfeeding into better account.
Photo: Roby Family/ACLU