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Eastern Airlines fired employee who sought emergency family leave – lawsuit

Daniel Wiessner  

Daniel Wiessner  

(Reuters) - Eastern Airlines LLC’s former director of revenue management has filed a lawsuit claiming she was fired for requesting paid leave to care for her 11-year-old son after his school closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Plaintiff Stephanie Jones, represented by Wusinich & Sweeney, filed a complaint in federal court in Philadelphia on Thursday claiming her firing last month violated the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), a law passed by Congress in March to provide paid sick and family leave to workers affected by the coronavirus.
 
Jones, who worked at Eastern’s headquarters in Wayne, Pennsylvania, said in the complaint that after she was directed to work from home, she requested two hours of paid time off per day under the FFCRA to take care of her son. But her supervisor became hostile, she said, and she was fired a few days later.
 
Eastern did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
 
The FFCRA requires private employers with fewer than 500 employees, and all public-sector employers, to provide leave to workers who are sick, quarantined, or caring for sick family members or children whose schools have closed as a result of the pandemic.
 
Jones in the complaint said Eastern has fewer than 500 employees, but more than 50, making it ineligible for a waiver under the law.
 
She said that after she requested leave, her supervisor in an email said the FFCRA is “there as a safety net for employees, not as a hammer to force management into making decisions which may not be in the best interest of the company or yourself.”
 
The supervisor fired her three days later, citing “conflicts” between her and other employees, according to the complaint.
 
Jones accused Eastern of denying her leave and retaliating against her for requesting leave in violation of the FFCRA. She is seeking reinstatement to her job, lost wages and benefits, and liquidated damages.
 
Eastern was founded in 2010 as Dynamic Airways, and changed its name in 2018 after acquiring the intellectual property of Eastern Air Lines, which had stopped operating in 1991.

The case is Jones v. Eastern Airlines Inc, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, No. 2:20-cv-01927.
 
For Jones: Edward Sweeney of Wusinich & Sweeney
 
For Eastern: Not available

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