Virgin and Alaska Air Workers Win $31 Million in Wage Suit

Flight attendants from Alaska Airlines and Virgin America have won nearly $31 million in a recent re-evaluation of a class action lawsuit filed against the Alaska Air Group over employment law violations.

Alaska airlines flight arriving at Bozeman Airport
Alaska Air Group acquired Virgin Atlantic in 2016, becoming the premier carrier for the west coast of the U.S. | @Bozemanairport on Twitter

The wage-and-hour case lawsuit was filed almost a decade ago, accusing Virgin and Alaska of violating various California labour laws. These violations included failing to pay for the number of hours worked in a timely manner, not ensuring workers made minimum wage, failing to pay overtime premiums or provide the proper wage statements, and not providing adequate meal and rest breaks.

Case History

The case was originally filed in March 2015 on behalf of flight attendants who worked for Virgin America at any time between March 18, 2011, and December 15, 2017. After the merger of Virgin America into Alaska Air Group in 2016, responsibility for the suit was passed onto Alaska Airlines.

In February 2019, the court issued a judgement in favour of the plaintiffs, who won nearly $77 million in damages and penalties. Virgin and Alaska appealed this judgement in the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, prompting a re-evaluation of penalties that had been awarded.

The bulk of the original order of $77 million, awarded by Judge Jon S. Tigar, was upheld, but some penalties were reduced, including those awarded to the state under the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA).

Virgin America Airbus
Virgin America Airbus A320-214 | © Quintin Soloviev

Alaska Airlines Group Appeal Original Ruling

The US District Court for the Northern District of California has handled the recalculation of fees and recently determined that plaintiffs were owed another $31 million and that the state was owed almost $12.3 million in penalties. These figures represent a significant 25% reduction from the earlier award but still far less than the 75% reduction that the airlines sought in the appeals court.

A breakdown of the $31 million in damages is as follows:

  • More than $6.3 million in damages and restitution for overtime failures
  • More than $5.1 million in interest for the above claims
  • More than $601,000 for meal and rest period claims
  • Almost $4.4 million for failures to provide wage statements
  • More than $2.2 million for waiting time penalties

What do you think of the results of the lawsuit? Let us know in the comments below!

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Sophie Baker
Sophie Baker
Aviation Reporter - A recent graduate in English Literature, Sophie is an experienced and skilled reporter, with an interest in the world of travel and aviation. She joined the team in 2023, providing an insight into the latest developments in the industry