Former Spirit Airlines Flight Attendant Accuses Airline of Violating FMLA

A former Spirit Airlines flight attendant has proposed a class action suit against the budget airline. The suit alleges that the airline enforced family and medical leave policies which are inconsistent with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

The FMLA entitles qualified employees to take unpaid, job-protected leave for certain types of family and medical reasons. The issue comes down to how Spirit Airlines qualifies flight attendants for FMLA eligibility.

Case background

The main issue in the case is whether a flight attendant can reasonably qualify for FMLA leave under the hours-of-service requirement. The complaint alleges that the carrier required flight attendants to maintain 520 credit hours in the previous 12 months to be eligible. This is higher than the 504 hours required by law. The airline also improperly counted the credit hours: they should have included all hours worked, including tasks before and after the plane is in the air. Instead, Spirit only counted the hours worked during a flight.

The plaintiffs argue that this cuts a minimum of 80 to 90 minutes of work per flight, and effectively interferes with, restrains or denies the class’s FMLA benefits.

Next, the suit alleges that Spirit has wrongfully given eligible attendants up to 12 work weeks of paid FMLA leave—but the law provides up to 72 days of leave during any 12-month period. While they allow eligible flight attendants to take up to 26 work weeks of leave in a 12-month period to care for a covered service member with a serious injury, the law allows for 156 days in that situation.

Finally, Spirit requires flight attendants to report FMLA leave no later than three business days after their leave starts, but the FMLA allows workers to report within three days or “as soon as practicable.”

If certified, the lawsuit will cover all Spirit flight attendants who worked in the last three years.

If your employer is violating FMLA protections, call an experienced whistleblower attorney at Kardell Law Group today.