Retaliation charged by union attorney in maternity leave case

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“Taking the maternity leave obviously affected the decision to give me more money,” she said in an interview with The Washington Times. “The culture inside the union is different than what they advocate for members.”

In addition to her lawsuit under the family leave act, she earlier filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, charging discrimination because she is black.

She was the AFA’s only black attorney and said in her complaint that a white female supervisor with no children had received a raise. Since filing the complaint, she said, she had been excluded from meetings and from receiving routine office information.

Mrs. Lewis said the union, whose membership is largely female, had championed the family leave act and rights for working mothers.

For years, the AFA fought to get its members included in the federal medical leave bill that became law in 1993. The law said an employee needed to work at least 1,250 hours in the previous 12 months to qualify for benefits. While that was an easy threshold for most full-time workers in other industries, it was tough for flight attendants and pilots because they are paid only for their time in the air and usually fly 70 to 80 hours a month — too low to qualify under the original rules.

In December, after years of campaigning by the union, President Obama signed legislation to extend the benefits to flight crew members. At the time, the AFA said the legislation would ensure that flight crews were treated fairly and would be able to qualify for Family Medical Leave Act benefits.

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