Press Release

Press Release AG Healey Leads Multistate Coalition Supporting Paid Sick Leave for Airline Workers

Nineteen Attorneys General Join Brief in Support of Washington State Paid Sick Leave Law
For immediate release:
5/19/2020
  • Office of Attorney General Maura Healey

Media Contact for AG Healey Leads Multistate Coalition Supporting Paid Sick Leave for Airline Workers

Meggie Quackenbush

BostonAttorney General Maura Healey led a multistate coalition of 19 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in support of paid sick leave for airline flight crew workers, benefits that the coalition argue are particularly important to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

The brief, filed yesterday in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, supports the State of Washington against a challenge by the Air Transport Association of America d/b/a Airlines for America to the state’s paid sick leave law that requires employers to allow workers to take sick leave without fear of discipline.

“Workers need to be able to stay home when they are sick to recover and stop the spread of serious illnesses like COVID-19 to their families, coworkers, and the public,” said AG Healey. “We filed this brief because these workers have a right to paid time off without risking their livelihoods.” 

According to the brief, Washington’s paid sick leave law prohibits a practice used in the airline industry by which flight attendants and pilots who miss work, even due to illness, receive “points” that can lead to discipline or termination. The attorneys general write that Washington’s law advances important public health objectives by allowing flight crew who fall ill to fully recuperate before returning to work. This benefit is particularly important in the airline industry because, as recent experiences with the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrate, commercial air travel can amplify the rapid spread of infectious disease. For example, during the H1N1 pandemic in 2009, people working while sick infected seven million individuals across the globe and the virus spread rapidly due to air travel.

The attorneys general write that Washington’s sick leave law does not substantially burden the free flow of goods and services or contribute significantly to flight delays, as Airlines for America argues in its lawsuit. The states urge the appeals court to affirm a lower court decision that found Washington’s paid sick leave law to be legal.

AG Healey’s Fair Labor Division is responsible for enforcing state laws regulating the payment of wages, including minimum wage, overtime and earned sick time laws. The Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law allows workers to use up to 40 hours of earned sick time per year if they, or their child, spouse, or parent, are sick, injured or have a routine medical appointment. The law applies to most workers, including full-time, part-time, temporary, and per diem employees. Employers with 11 or more employees must offer paid sick leave.

Call the AG’s Fair Labor hotline at 617-727-3465 for more information on the state’s earned sick time laws, or file a complaint online if you think your rights have been violated. Read the AG’s FAQs on employee rights and employer obligations during the COVID-19 emergency and visit the AG’s COVID-19 resource page for information about how the AG’s Office can help during this crisis. 

This brief was led by AG Healey and joined by California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Virginia.

This matter was handled by State Solicitor Bessie Dewar, Assistant Attorney General Doug Martland of the AG's Administrative Law Division, and Assistant Attorneys General Amanda Morejon and Kate Watkins of the AG's Fair Labor Division. 

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Media Contact for AG Healey Leads Multistate Coalition Supporting Paid Sick Leave for Airline Workers

Office of Attorney General Maura Healey 

Attorney General Maura Healey is the chief lawyer and law enforcement officer of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
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