Frontier Airlines flight attendants have acquired the ability to use wearable lactation devices to pump breast milk during flights after the carrier settled a lawsuit brought by a group of flight attendants against their employer.
The complaint was initiated on behalf of the flight attendants by the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado (ACLU), who claimed that Frontier discriminated against pregnant and breastfeeding crew members.
The case was brought in 2019, and it was only recently resolved after a settlement deal was struck that did not admit any liability.
Frontier’s restrictions, according to the flight attendants, caused women to take unpaid time off work to breastfeed, but the airline is now allowing flight attendants to pump milk on the job thanks to “advancements in wearable lactation equipment.”
“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.”
Flight attendants will be able to pump milk in the air using wearable lactation devices under the terms of the settlement deal. The airline will also keep a list of permitted lactation facilities at each of its base locations, and pregnant or breastfeeding crew members will not face disciplinary action 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.”
Airlines should enable flight attendants to pump milk on the job, according to the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA), which represents Frontier crew members.
Some airlines, according to the union, are pressing the federal government to exempt flight attendants from new rules that will ensure new moms have “appropriate break time” to pump milk.
The airline companies that lobbied for the exception have remained anonymous, according to the union.