In order to settle a recent lawsuit, Southwest Airlines Co. will pay close to $19 million to pilots. The lawsuit alleged that Southwest Airlines did not grant benefits to their pilots who took short-term military leave.
The lawsuit against Southwest was filed by Jayson Huntsman in July 2017 and represented Huntsman along with his fellow pilots. The lawsuit claimed that when a Southwest pilot took short-term military leave, their paid sick leave did not accrue, and they did not receive matching retirement contributions. This lack of benefits applied to short periods of military leave lasting 14 days or less.
Southwest pilots taking short-term military leave of 14 days or less were denied these basic benefits even though benefits were provided to pilots who took other comparable forms of leave (i.e. bereavement, union duty, jury duty, etc.)
Southwest Airlines will provide pilots 100% of their sick leave benefits that they did not receive for this type of short-term military leave from 2008 to the date of preliminary approval. They will also receive 77% of the average sick leave benefits for those affected between 2001 and 2007, which is expected to be valued at more than $13 million according to settlement documents.
According to the settlement, a $5.8 million fund will be created to offer retirement benefits for 401k payments for the years 2001 through 2013. Southwest Airlines will also agree to pay $1,000 to each of the pilots who were affected, but who are no longer employees with the ability to make use of sick leave. The airline will also change the sick leave policy so short-term military leave will no longer be excluded from leaves during which pilots can accrue sick leave from this point forward. This change will provide millions of dollars in future benefits to the class members. Southwest also agreed in the settlement to provide pilots with more information about retirement credit and contributions received for periods of short-term military leave.
If you are being denied benefits by your employer or if you need information on how to join a class action, please get in touch with one of the experienced employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.