United Airlines Settles Labor Dispute With 13 Flight Attendants Fired In 2014 For Refusing To Work A Flight

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A group of 13 Flight Attendants reached a settlement with their former and new employer United Airlines after the airline terminated the employment following a dispute over the safety of a flight in July 2014.

UA Flight AttendantsBack then the flight attendants spotted a graffiti on the rear end of the aircraft which was supposed to bring them and their passengers to Seoul, South Korea. The crew feared foul play and refused to fly.

The pilots and United Airlines assessed the situation and decided the aircraft was safe to fly, however the crew of 13 flight attendants wouldn’t budge. The flight was subsequently cancelled.

United Airlines terminated all flight attendants involved after a series of hearings. The employees sought the advise of legal counsel and filed a dispute with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

LoyaltyLobby wrote about the incident back in January 2015 (access here).

Today it was made public that the employees and United Airlines reached an agreement to settle the case in return for a withdrawal of the OSHA complaint which was soon due for a judgment.

The Washington D.C. based law firm Katz, Marshall & Banks which is  representing the flight attendants published a press release (see here).

United Airlines and 13 flight attendants that the company relieved of their duties in October 2014 announced on March 8, 2016, that they have reached a resolution to their disagreement.

The flight attendants filed a complaint with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) under AIR 21. As part of the settlement, United will reinstate the flight attendants to their duties and the flight attendants will withdraw their OSHA filing. The remaining terms of the resolution reached between the parties are confidential.

“The safety of our employees and customers is paramount. We respect the right of our employees to raise concerns in good faith about the safety or security of our operations, and encourage them to do so,” said Sam Risoli, United’s senior vice president of inflight services. “We welcome these flight attendants back to our team.”

David J. Marshall, who led the legal team representing the flight attendants before OSHA, stated that his clients were happy to be reinstated to their jobs with United.

“The protections that federal law provides to airline workers are essential to the safety of passenger airline operations,” Mr. Marshall said. “I’m glad that United and these flight attendants have come to a resolution that underscores the importance of these laws for airlines and their employees.”

You can see the graffiti in question in the featured image of this article.

Personally I’m torn regarding to this case because I don’t think the pilots would set foot on an aircraft that they don’t think is safe to fly. After all they not only bear the responsibility for passengers and aircraft but also for their own life. Where does it lead us if now the flight attendants pretty much decide by their willingness to work or not if a flight is operating. Back in the original article John was siding with the flight attendants but as much as I hated the former management of United I can’t bring myself to support this claim.

Nevertheless the employees reached a settlement with the company that will send them back to active duty and more than likely (the exact details of the settlement are confidential) includes back pay and reinstatement of benefits for all thirteen complainants.

Conclusion

It’s very hard to get rid of employees especially in such a highly unionized environment such as the airline industry. However it appears the the grounds for their termination were a grey area and that their complaint with OSHA had some merit and United feared a negative judgement against them. Otherwise they would never have settled after all this water under the bridge.

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