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Union: American Airlines work policy treats flight attendants like “second-class citizens”

Union: American Airlines work policy treats flight attendants like “second-class citizens”
[Photo: Flickr user Simon_sees]

The flight attendants’ union has filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging that American Airlines discriminated against its predominantly female flight attendants by enforcing attendance policies more strictly than for its predominantly male pilots.

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents over 27,000 American Airlines flight attendants, claims the airline has violated federal law by implementing an attendance policy it describes as “onerous” on flight attendants. The policy, which went into effect on October 1, 2018, will reportedly fast-track flight attendants who miss work for discipline and firing, while pilots have no such restrictions or penalties. The union claims that the differing attendance rules will have a disproportionate impact on the female employees, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“Our flight attendants work alongside outstanding pilots as a single flight crew, yet we are treated like second-class citizens when it comes to attendance,” said APFA president Lori Bassani. “We deserve the same respect and professionalism as our other crewmembers, regardless of our gender, and it is unacceptable that American Airlines is perpetuating this gender disparity in 2019.”

We reached out to American Airlines for comment and will update if we hear back.

Being a flight attendant is already not an easy gig: A survey last year by the Association of Flight Attendants, which represents about 50,000 flight attendants at United, Hawaiian, Alaska, and Spirit airlines, among others, found that 68% of flight attendants have been sexually harassed at some point in their careers.

This is the second time this week that the union has demanded an investigation into the airline after a sexist skit showed American Airlines flight attendants singing “Big Spender” to a man portraying a high-paying customer at an event.

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