DES MOINES, Iowa (CN) – Retired Frontier Airlines flight attendants filed a federal lawsuit against their former employer Thursday saying they were cheated out of their share of a $40 million payout from a profit-sharing agreement.
According to the complaint filed in Des Moines, Iowa, federal court, the $40 million in equity payments compensated Frontier employees who agreed to concessions in a 2011 collective-bargaining agreement when the Denver-based airline was struggling financially.
Frontier filed for bankruptcy in 2008 and has since been acquired by a private-equity firm.
The 78 plaintiffs, represented by lead attorney Kellie Paschke with Skinner & Paschke, claim they were wrongly denied payments because the cutoff date for eligibility was set after their retirements, in violation of the CBA.
Flight attendants employed through Jan. 1, 2012, were initially eligible for equity payments, according to the agreement cited in the complaint, but the airline and the Association for Flight Attendants union allegedly modified the deal to restrict eligibility to those who were “continuously employed” through March 15, 2017, after the plaintiffs retired.
Paschke said via email that her clients in 16 states “took wage freezes and benefit reductions in order to help Frontier remain afloat at a time when the airline was facing severe financial difficulties.”
“Frontier’s refusal to honor their 2011 agreement, despite record profits in 2016, is disappointing,” Paschke said.
Frontier did not immediately respond Friday to a request for comment.
The plaintiffs, who claim the airline breached the CBA, say the precise amount due to them must be determined in court. Other flight attendants who were given equity payments received about $62,000 each based on their length of service, Paschke said.