Spirit Airlines Faces FMLA Lawsuit for Incorrectly Denying Leave

In a proposed class action lawsuit filed in Nevada federal court, a former Spirit Airlines flight attendant has alleged that the airline wrongfully denies unpaid Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave by not considering all the hours worked by employees.

Case background

The lawsuit pertains to Spirit's method of calculating FMLA eligibility. The former employee, Michael Warwas, claims that Spirit excludes the pre- and post-flight duty hours of flight attendants when determining the hours-of-service requirement necessary to qualify for unpaid family or medical leave under the FMLA. Instead, the airline only counts "block hours," which are the hours worked between when the plane is moved off the ramp blocks and secured back at the destination point.

According to the complaint, this exclusion results in Spirit failing to account for the significant amount of time (a minimum of 80 to 90 minutes per flight) that flight attendants spend working before and after each flight. Additionally, the lawsuit contends that Spirit imposes a higher requirement for FMLA eligibility than what is mandated by the FMLA itself. While the FMLA requires airline employees to have worked at least 504 hours in the prior 12 months to be eligible for unpaid medical or family leave, Spirit sets a requirement of 520 hours.

Warwas, who began working for Spirit in November 2013, started requesting absences in 2019 due to a medical diagnosis. However, Spirit allegedly categorized his eligible FMLA hours as "sick calls."

Following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor, it was determined that Spirit had violated the FMLA by not applying Warwas's FMLA leave to certain previous absences. Despite the department's findings, Spirit terminated Warwas based on his attendance record in September 2021.

In March 2020, Spirit issued a memorandum stating that it would grant COVID-19 voluntary time off for a full month and would pay flight attendants for 36 hours at their applicable hourly rate. However, according to Warwas, Spirit refused to count these hours toward flight attendants' hours-of-service requirement for FMLA eligibility.

If your employer fails to provide FMLA leave, you may be eligible to file a claim. Contact a qualified whistleblower attorney at Kardell Law Group today.