Tuesday, May 20, 2008, 2:24 PM

Checking Out at Curbside

What began as litigation against American Airlines in Boston (DiFiore v. American Airlines, Inc., 1:07-CV-10070, D.Mass.) has mushroomed into multiple filings, "curative" legislation, and now new lawsuits in North Carolina. Don DiFiore and nine other skycaps sued American on December 20, 2006, claiming that American and their direct employer, G2 Secure Staff, had implemented a $2-per-passenger "service charge" which was not passed on to the skycaps, thereby cutting their take-home pay significantly. Plaintiffs contended this practice violated the Massachusetts Tips Law because passengers were not informed that these charges were not shared with the skycaps; as a consequence of the service charge, voluntary tips declined, which plaintiffs attributed to the alleged lack of notice to the traveling public. Last month, a federal jury determined that American was liable for both the Tips Law infractions and tortious interference with contract, awarding in excess of $325,000 to nine of the plaintiffs whose work had been at Logan in Boston. the tenth plaintiff, who was based in St. Louis, lost.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts amended its wage-hour law to provide for treble damages for violations occurring after June 13, 2008. The same law firm which represented the DiFiore plaintiffs had filed two more suits in the same court (Mitchell v. US Airways Inc., 1:08-CV-10629 (filed 4/11/08) and Travers v. JetBlue Airways Corporation, 1:08-CV-10730 (filed 4/30/08)). Additionally, American instituted a no-tipping policy on May 1, which the original plaintiffs have challenged as "retaliatory." A hearing on that motion is now set for May 29.

The dispute next touched down in North Carolina, with the filing of four new cases on May 15 -- Connie Jones and Stacy P. McCrae filed separate class action complaints against American, Delta, United and US Airways along with G2, attacking the same service charge as well as meal break policies and raising both North Carolina and federal wage-hour claims. The complaints appear to be rather hastily prepared; the filed US Airways complaint is stamped "DRAFT" on every page, but the most interesting error appears in the captions. While the complaint against United is correctly specified as filed in the "United States District Court," the other three are designated as "American States District Court," "Delta States District Court," and "US Air States District Court," respectively.

Plaintiffs' counsel told EmploymentLaw 360 that "the airlines' policies regarding service charges and meal breaks were industrywide practices, and he expected similar lawsuits to be filed nationwide." We will see whether this litigation gets off the ground; watch your monitor for developments.

Click here to read more from Employment Law360 (subscription required)...

Read a related story in the Raleigh News & Observer...


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

back to top