The union that represents about 5,000 flight attendants at JetBlue Airways has filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging that it is violating New York City and New York State paid sick leave laws.
In a statement issued after the suit was filed Tuesday, John Samuelsen, president of the Transit Workers Union International, said fight attendants who call in sick for one or two shifts are being required to provide doctor’s notes when they should not be.
The union stated that two laws require employers to grant up to 56 hours of paid time off a year. Employers cannot require a doctor’s note unless an employee calls in sick for three or more consecutive days, not one or two.
The union said flight attendants are being threatened with discipline that could lead to termination.
“JetBlue talks a good game about being a benevolent employer, but actions speak louder than words,” Samuelsen said. “They created an abusive atmosphere greedily scheduling more work than they can handle, and they are making their employees pay for their mismanagement. Sick and stressed-out workers are being forced to come to work.”
Samuelsen said the attendants, considered essential workers during the pandemic, are under enormous mental and physical stress, that they are working 12 to 18 hours a day and are being subjected to unprecedented levels of harassment and assaults from passengers.
A spokesman for JetBlue said in an email that it had not yet been served with the suit.
“We will continue to negotiate in good faith with the TWU to reach an agreement on a contract for our inflight crewmembers,” he said. “[B]ut JetBlue follows all federal and local labor regulations and the safety and wellness of our crewmembers and customers is always our primary focus.
The union filed the lawsuit in Queens State Supreme Court. It is seeking an order to stop the alleged threats and demands that it says are effectively denying flight attendants their legal right to paid time off.