Flying the Friendly Skies: Where Work Is Often Not Paid Until It’s “Wheels Up”
Many of us are old enough to remember Pan-Am and TWA and the cross-country flights where warm meals were once complimentary. Over the years, however, the airlines have disappeared, the names have changed and the meals are no longer complimentary. But, one thing has remained the same – the flight attendants who work hard to make sure we get from point A to B safely. It often comes as a surprise, then, to learn that flight attendants are typically not covered by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA. Among other things, the FLSA regulates minimum wage and overtime compensation for millions of Americans. In fact, another federal law – that pertaining to the operation of railways – exempts flight attendants from certain protections of the FLSA. Instead, their conditions of employment (like many thousands of other employees in the airline industry) may be governed by collective bargaining agreements or other contracts of employment. This is not new. However, when flight attendants are often only paid when a plane is in flight, work performed by them when the plane is parked at the gate or otherwise taxiing for take-off routinely goes unpaid.
The FLSA provides powerful protections for employees. Knowing if you are covered and whether your rights have been violated is what Conway Legal advises clients about every day. While we cannot guarantee that you will receive a warm meal and complimentary drinks, we can make sure that you fly the friendly FLSA skies.