Judge Says Southwest Flight Attendants May Proceed on Claims That They Are Punished for Using FMLA Leave.

Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley of the Northern District of California rejected Southwest Airline’s efforts to dismiss claims brought by flight attendants alleging that the company unlawfully retaliated against them for using Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) and the California Family Rights Act (“CRLA”) leave on May 12, 2022. Southwest Airlines unsuccessfully argued that the collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) governs and that the civil lawsuit must be dismissed. The complaint arises from Southwest’s policy that flight attendants can benefit from Record Improvement for excellent attendance unless they use their FMLA/CLRA time, which Plaintiffs contend violates their rights. “The policy to prevent flight attendants from benefitting from Record Improvement has nothing to do with the CBA” said Andrus Anderson partner, Jennie Lee Anderson, who represents the flight attendants. “Instead, the airline is penalizing its employees for exercising their right to appropriately use medical and family leave under state and federal law,” Anderson added. The case is Rufeuerzo v. Southwest Airlines Co., Case No. 3:22-cv-00868-JSC (May 12, 2022), Order Re: Motion to Dismiss.