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View Full Version : UAL/ALPA FMLA lawsuit

Low & Slow
11-09-2007, 11:01 AM
Another good deal by UAL
(Fwd'd message):

November 9, 2007

Dear Fellow Pilot:

During the course of our lives, many of us will experience the heart-wrenching situation of having a parent, spouse, domestic partner, son or daughter, or other family member falling ill. Irrespective of the debilitating disease or ailment, we have the obligation and moral responsibility to care for our loved ones. It is what we must do: be there for the ones we love.

Unfortunately, the Company we work for doesn’t share our belief that caring for our loved ones is an act of compassion, morality and responsibility. For reasons unknown to rational individuals who believe in doing what’s right, United Airlines’ management maintains a sick leave policy that forbids United pilots from using paid sick leave – sick leave contractually accrued by every pilot who flies for this airline – to care for ill or dying family members.

In reaction to the Company’s lack of heart, compassion and respect for its employees and their families, the Air Line Pilots Association this week filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of San Francisco, against United Airlines, contending that the Company is subject to California statutes which require an employer to permit its employees to use their accrued sick leave to attend to the illness of a spouse, child, parent or domestic partner. California law also prohibits an employer from disciplining an employee who opts to use his or her sick leave to care for a loved one.

With no surprise to any of us, United claims it is not subject to the California statutes.

The Company’s refusal to allow one of our pilots to care for her dying mother provides the court a perfect example of United’s archaic and heartless sick leave policy. On a Thursday, doctors at a hospital were treating this pilot’s mother for a terminal illness. With the doctors determining that no further medical treatment was possible, she was sent home so she could spend her remaining time in her home setting and with her loved ones. The pilot had a trip scheduled for Saturday, and had asked her flight manager whether she could use her accrued sick leave to care for her dying mother. She was denied any use of sick time or vacation time and she was forced to take an unpaid leave. Her mother died the day after her scheduled trip departed.

It is unconscionable that, during times of a dire family medical crisis, we have to worry about what discipline United management will hand down if we opt to care for our loved ones. It’s beyond rational belief that we have to take steps such as filing our lawsuit to get the Company to do what’s right. This union will not stand silently while the Company disrespects its employees and our loved ones in such a callous fashion. It would be easy to say that it is impossible to comprehend United management’s indifference and lack of sympathy, but then think about what we all have been through and who we are dealing with. Cynically, maybe their conduct isn’t so unfathomable after all.

Click here to read the lawsuit we filed. We will use the full resources of ALPA’s legal department, our outside attorneys and the California judicial system to force the Company to recognize and accept that not only do they have a duty to manage our airline; they have a legal – and moral -- obligation to provide its employees our legal right to care for a sick or dying loved one. While this lawsuit applies only to California employees, it is our belief that a victory here may very well start the process to compel United to extend our position in the lawsuit to all its employees in every locale. Each state’s laws are different, and we are looking at them to ensure United’s compliance is enforced in every instance.

Our fight on this issue is under full steam. We will continue to aggressively take on the Company every chance we get, on every issue we face and in every venue possible.


Captain Mark Bathurst

Chairman, UAL-MEC

11-09-2007, 12:39 PM
This pilot learned her lesson the hard way. No permission is necessary to use sick leave. The pilot is the only judge in determining fitness for flight. How could she not know this? Not an excuse for UAL management, but she (and we ALL) should know better.