Frontier plane

An Airbus A319-111 operated by Frontier Airlines sits at a boarding gate at Denver International Airport.

A class-action lawsuit against Frontier Airlines will go forward after a federal court judge denied the motion to dismiss the case filed by four flight attendants who allege the Denver-based airline discriminates against pregnant and breastfeeding employees.

Frontier said the four women lacked "standing," meaning the way in which they were harmed by the basis of the lawsuit. None of them are currently pregnant, but they have been in the past, and did not allege in their lawsuit that another pregnancy was imminent.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Denver in December 2019, alleges employees who are nursing are not provided adequate breaks and sanitary locations to express breast milk.

Pilots and flight attendants are barred from flying after 32 weeks of pregnancy and are not provided alternative duties, putting them out of work, the suit states.

“It’s past time for Frontier Airlines, and the airline industry as a whole, to ensure flight attendants and pilots have access to the basic, common-sense accommodations they need to continue working while they’re pregnant or breastfeeding,” Galen Sherwin, senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union Women’s Rights Project, said in a statement provided by the ACLU of Colorado.

“Pregnancy discrimination was outlawed 40 years ago and there is no reason it should still be happening today.”

Melissa Hodgkins, the lead named plaintiff in the suit, stated: “I love my job, and it was not an easy decision to bring a lawsuit against my employer. But no one else should have to face the choices I faced. I’m encouraged that the court recognized that our case is valid.

The suit alleges flight attendants are forced to pump breast milk in "unsanitary" airplane lavatories and were not allowed to pump while they were on duty.

Frontier is accused of violating anti-discrimination laws, the Family and Medical Leave Act and state law requiring employers to provide accommodations for pumping.

The lawsuits were filed by the ACLU, the ACLU of Colorado, Holwell Shuster & Goldberg LLP and Towards Justice.

Colorado Politics senior political reporter

Joey Bunch is the senior correspondent and deputy managing editor of Colorado Politics. His 32-year career includes the last 16 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and he is a two-time finalist.

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