CHICAGO (Legal Newsline) – A United Airlines pilot and former U.S. Air Force (USAF) lieutenant colonel and pilot is bringing suit against the airline for allegedly not crediting him sick benefits accrued over a four-month period during which the U.S. Air Force Reserve assigned him to serve at an Air Force base in southwest Asia.
Filing a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, former USAF officer and pilot Daniel Fandrei explains that he was hired as a pilot by United Airlines in 2000 while he was serving in the USAF Reserves.
failed to accrue sick leave benefits for Fandrei from Dec. 9, 2012, to March 13, 2013, he alleges in the lawsuit.
Fandrei also filed a complaint with the Veterans' Employment and Training Services (VETS) alleging that United Airlines violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) by not crediting him with sick leave benefits while he was serving in the reserves.
USERRA protects civilian job rights and benefits for veterans and U.S. armed forces reserve members. In administering the law, the U.S. Department of Labor also works to improve protections of service member rights and benefits by clarifying the law, improving enforcement mechanisms, and adding federal government employees to those already eligible to receive Labor Department assistance in processing claims.
Fandrei is represented by U.S. Attorney Zachary T. Fardon in seeking the accrued sick leave benefits he believes are his due.
"Lt. Col. Fandrei has made many sacrifices to serve our nation honorably, including spending months away from his job and family," Fardon stated after filing the lawsuit.
"When our service members are deployed in the service of our country, they are entitled to retain their civilian employment and benefits, and to the protections of federal law that prevent them from being subject to discrimination based upon their military obligations."
United Airlines provided a statement to Legal Newsline.
"We believe our policies and practices are fully compliant with the requirements of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)," it said.
"At United, we are proud of and are committed to supporting the many aviation professionals at our airline who served or who are currently serving in the military."
The Riggan Law Firm filed a similar USERRA case against GoJet Airlines in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri in late August. GoJet provides service for both UA and Delta Airlines.
In the lawsuit, Riggan attorneys contend that GoJet violated USERRA when they fired a pilot serving in the Air National Guard. Not believing plaintiff's assertion that he was serving,
GoJet notified the plaintiff of his firing via email while he was undertaking mandatory training at an Air National Guard base, they elaborate in the lawsuit.