American Airlines Newark Staff Not Allowed To Group For Pay Lawsuit

American Airlines staff based at Newark Liberty International Airport will be disappointed to hear that a federal court has overturned a ruling that was in their favor. A New Jersey judge initially allowed the workers to file a pay dispute as a class. However, this has now been reversed by superior authorities.

American airlines court case
American Airlines executives have had the courts rule in their favor as the head draws to a close. Photo: American Airlines

Why the suit?

In 2016, several workers across the airport filed a lawsuit against AA. They claimed that the airline’s clocking system automatically paid them on their schedules rather than the number of hours that were worked.

Additionally, the group claims that seniors often refused to approve overtime pay for work completed before and after scheduled shifts and during half an hour lunch breaks. However, this is something that AA firmly denies.

Newark Airport
Newark Liberty International Airport serves over 43 million passengers per year. Photo: Getty

Change of fate

However, USA Today reports that the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has now overruled this decision. It feels that each claim needs to be handled on a case by case basis.

Ultimately, the three-judge panel determined that each allegation can differ greatly from the other as there are different circumstances involved. Therefore, American is not obligated to defend itself against a group all at once.

“For example, some employees testified that they began working immediately after clocking in,” the court stated, as reported by USA Today.

“Others testified that they chatted with co-workers or watched TV after clocking in but before their shifts began. Thus, whether they were actually working pre- and post-shift is an open and inherently individualized question.”

Newark - New York
Despite being based in New Jersey, Newark serves as one of the major hubs for passengers traveling to and from New York. Photo: qwesy qwesy via Wikimedia Commons

Time for a different approach

The aim of the lawsuit was for the workers to receive back pay as well as damages. Nonetheless, despite not being able to continue with the suit as a group, they can still pursue justice independently. Although, this is likely to be a much more costly and difficult approach than a class action suit.

Brett Gallaway, a lawyer who is representing the group shared that the employees are now thinking about their options going forward.

American Airlines has been busy with the courts as of late. This month, it had filed a suit against Delta over trademark infringement allegations. It has also been involved in a messy dispute with its mechanics’ union. This resulted in the courts granting a permanent injunction to American Airlines following conflicts over contract negotiations. 

We hope, that within the new year, we can see progress when it comes to the relationship between the company and its workers.

Simple Flying reached out to American Airlines on the news. We will update the article with any further information.

What are your thoughts on the decision by the court? Let us know what you think in the comment section.