Colorado’s Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA), which A Better Balance is proud to have helped draft and pass in 2020, guarantees a permanent right to paid sick and safe leave to workers across the state, serving as a lifeline to workers and their families. As one of the strongest paid sick time laws in the country, the law’s implementation and enforcement is critical in guaranteeing that all covered workers are able to exercise their rights.
Last year, the State of Colorado fined Southwest Airlines more than $1.3 million for multiple violations of Colorado’s HFWA. Among other violations, the State of Colorado found that Southwest had refused to provide sick leave as required by HFWA for preventive medical care or care of a sick child and had also penalized employees for using protected sick time, forcing them to choose between their families’ health and their jobs. Rather than come into compliance with HFWA, Southwest then filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming that Colorado’s sick leave law does not apply to its operations.
In response to Southwest’s ongoing refusal to follow this vital law, A Better Balance joined with Towards Justice, a nonprofit legal organization, and Andrew Turner of Milstein Turner PLLC to represent the Transport Workers Union of America Local 556 (“TWU Local 556”) – which includes more than 18,000 flight attendants working for Southwest Airlines – to file a motion in federal court seeking to intervene in the case brought by Southwest. A Better Balance is taking this urgent step to ensure that the State of Colorado stands behind its own legislation and to stop a potential settlement between the State and Southwest that would jeopardize airline workers’ access to legally-protected paid sick time.
As ABB Vice President Jared Make said, “Many of our country’s largest airports are covered by paid sick leave laws that have been upheld by the courts. There is no reason that Southwest cannot comply with Colorado’s paid sick leave law or that flight attendants in our State should not receive the protection afforded to their colleagues in many other cities and states.”
ABB remains committed to fighting for the rights and dignity of airline and other transportation employees around the country, who are too often denied the protections that they are entitled to under the law. We will also continue to take steps to ensure that workers are not penalized by inequitable, abusive attendance policies that illegally punish individuals for exercising their hard-won rights under the law.