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United Accused of Denying Benefits to Air Force Aviator

Federal attorneys claim airline denied accrued sick time during active duty deployment.

The United States Attorney in Chicago is taking United Airlines to court, claiming that the airline violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) in 2012 and 2013. In a press release, the attorney’s office announced that the lawsuit filed in federal court on behalf of Air Force Reservist Lt. Col. Daniel Fandrei.

According to the complaint, United is accused of not crediting Lt. Col. Fandrei for accrued sick leave during an active duty deployment. After a furlough, the aviator was reactivated by the merged United Continental Holdings and was assigned as a pilot to Continental Airlines.

Betwen December 2012 and March 2013, the aviator was mobilized to Southwest Asia, where he was working as a KC-10 pilot. Upon his return, Lt. Col. Fandrei was denied ten hours of accrued sick time under a Continental policy that denied sick time accrual to active duty deployments, but allowed accrual for other sanctioned activities which included taking a position with the Airline Pilots’ Association.

To resolve the situation, Lt. Col. Fandrei began by filing a complaint with the Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Services. When resolution failed, it was referred to the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, which has prioritized enforcement of servicemember’s rights under USERRA.

“Lt. Col. Fandrei has made many sacrifices to serve our nation honorably, including spending months away from his job and family,” U.S. Attorney Zachary T. Fardon of the Northern District of Illinois said in a statement. “When our servicemembers are deployed in the service of our country, they are entitled to retain their civilian employment and benefits, and to the protections of federal law that prevent them from being subject to discrimination based upon their military obligations.”

The federal attorney is seeking damages from United equal to the amount of Lt. Col. Fandrei’s lost benefits while also compelling United to comply with all USERRA provisions. The Chicago-based airline has not yet commented on the pending lawsuit.

[Photo: AP]

Comments are Closed.
Irpworks August 17, 2016

As an employer I can't even imagine someone accruing anything, especially sick leave when they are not even working for me at the time. I do understand why it was illegal because they gave such to others who were off the payroll.

KRSW August 17, 2016

Keep it classy, UA.. Then again, it's UA. I'd expect nothing more.

payam81 August 16, 2016

Agreed that this is very stupid move. The pilot was basically accruing flight hours and experience at no charge to UA which would only make for a better pilot in their employee yet some really dumb bean counter put a finger on 10 hours of sick leave...

FlyingWithers August 16, 2016

How stupid of UA to do this. So stupid. To do this and suffer so much bad PR over a few hours of pay is nuts. The rats are running the UA ship. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.” ~ Don Miguel Ruiz