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Pilots, flight attendants: Frontier discriminates against pregnant women, new moms

It is the perfect time of year to fly Frontier Airlines from Milwaukee to one of its sunny destinations in the South or West. Some of Frontier's employees say that they pay a stiff price to work for the low-cost airline, however.

In a pair of federal lawsuits, a group of female pilots and flight attendants say Frontier discriminates against pregnant women and nursing moms. They said the airline "forced them to make impossible choices between their families and their livelihood."

The pilots and attendants said Frontier forced them to take unpaid leaves during pregnancy and then did not make it possible to pump breast milk while working. They say the airline required them to stop working weeks or months before their due dates, without paid maternity leave or work accommodations.

A flight attendant told NPR that she was forced to stop working at about 34 weeks and then go without paychecks for months, using up most of her time off before she even gave birth.

The women say Frontier also failed to allow space or time for breastfeeding mothers to pump - even prohibiting pilots from pumping breast milk during flights. One pilot pointed out that pilots use restrooms during flights anyway, and that brief pumping breaks would be no different.

"It's not as though we're going to be pumping during takeoff and landing," she said.

The Frontier employees say the airline has violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act that prohibits discrimination "on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions."

An aviation professor said that only about five percent of airline pilots are female, a figure unlikely to grow unless the industry "create(s) a more inclusive workplace."

Unfortunately, companies and industries happily allow decades to roll by without making significant changes to stop unlawful discrimination. You can speed up the process by fighting for your rights today with the help of an employment law attorney with the Milwaukee law firm of Alan C. Olson and Associates.

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