Benefits & Executive Compensation News

United Airlines Sued Again Over Military Pilot Benefits (1)

Jan. 7, 2019, 8:22 PMUpdated: Jan. 8, 2019, 4:00 PM

A United Airlines Inc. pilot filed a proposed class action accusing the company of shorting pay and benefits for pilots who take time off to serve in the military.

The airline pays regular wages to employees who take leave for non-military activities like jury duty, but it fails to pay these wages to pilots who serve, Eric White alleged in a Jan. 7 complaint. White accuses United and parent company United Continental Holdings Inc. of violating federal law protecting employment rights for military service members.

The airline also fails to properly credit pilots’ military service under its retirement plans, White claims.

At least “several thousand” current and former employees are affected by this conduct, according to the complaint.

United told Bloomberg Law it disputes the merits of the suit.

“We have reviewed the allegations in the complaint and are confident we comply with the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act,” a spokeswoman for the airline said.

“United supports our military and veteran employees and will defend ourselves in this case,” she said.

But United is no stranger to lawsuits over pilots’ military service. It’s currently defending a similar suit after settling another case involving service members’ benefits for $6.15 million in 2014.

Earlier this year, Southwest Airlines Co. agreed to pay $19 million to settle claims that it improperly denied benefits to pilots who were on military leave.

American Airlines Group inked a similar deal in 2016 for nearly $5 million in cash and company stock. And Alaska Airlines Inc. was hit with similar allegations in December 2018.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois by Outten & Golden LLP, Block & Leviton LLP, Law Office of Thomas G. Jarrard PLLC, and Crotty & Son Law Firm PLLC.

The case is White v. United Airlines, Inc., N.D. Ill., No. 1:19-cv-00114, complaint 1/7/19.

(Updated with response from United)

To contact the reporter on this story: Jacklyn Wille in Washington at jwille@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com; C. Reilly Larson at rlarson@bloomberglaw.com

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