Virgin Flight Attendants Lawsuit
Virgin flight attendants in their 2015 lawsuit accused the airline of various California labor violations, and an appeals court in San Francisco ruled in their favor. The lawsuit, which was certified as a class action one month before Alaska Airlines bought Virgin in 2016, alleges that Virgin violated multiple California and City of San Francisco labor and wage laws:
- Virgin failed to pay its flight attendants overtime and minimum wages,
- Did not pay them for hours worked before, after, and between flights,
- Did not pay them for time spent in training, on reserve, completing reports or taking mandatory drug tests,
- Did not allow flight attendants to take meal or rest breaks.
The California law requires that workers be free from all job duties for 10 minutes every four hours and for a 30-minute meal break every five hours. Federal regulations limit flight attendants to a 14-hour work day, but they remain on duty during meal breaks.
Those Against California Meal & Rest Break Law
Industry groups argued with the lower court’s decision to give flight attendants meal and rest breaks required by California law, saying it would lead to canceled flights and higher fares. The trade group Airlines for America said that the California law “will result in a patchwork of costly and conflicting state regulations,” adding that at least 19 states have laws covering meal and rest breaks. Lawyers for Alaska Airlines argued that the California law would be especially burdensome now, while airlines face labor shortages that are causing them to cancel thousands of flights, reported AP.
READ MORE CALIFORNIA LABOR LAW LEGAL NEWS
Attorneys for the flight attendants said it was laughable to think a law that applies to a limited group of workers would make nationwide labor shortages and flight cancellations any worse. And the Federal Aviation Administration’s authority to pre-empt state laws only applies to measures affecting airlines prices, routes and services, and that states are otherwise free to regulate working conditions.
The case is Virgin America Inc. et al. v. Julia Bernstein et al., case number 21-260, in the U.S. Supreme Court.