A Southwest Airlines pilot (the “Plaintiff”) has sued Southwest Airlines Co. (“Southwest”) alleging that Southwest violated USERRA by failing to (i) provide its pilots matching contributions to their 401(k) accounts for their deemed earnings during periods of Short-Term Military Leave for elective deferrals made to the 401(k) Plan, (ii) provide timely information to pilots on their deemed earnings from Short-Term Military Leave so that they can make make-up retirement contributions into their 401(k) accounts, and (iii) provide matching contributions to pilots’ make-up contributions to their 401(k) accounts from periods of Short-Term Military Leave. Plaintiff also alleged that Southwest violated USERRA by failing to provide for the accrual of sick leave when pilots take Short-Term Military Leave, because Southwest provides for the accrual of sick leave when pilots engage in jury duty, union leave, and bereavement leave.
The Court determined that the lawsuit can proceed as a class action on behalf of a group of all former or current Southwest pilots who took Short-Term Military Leave from Southwest between January 1, 2001 and December 5, 2018.
Under the Settlement, if you are a current or former Southwest pilot you may be eligible to receive an additional employer contribution to your 401(k) Plan account if you took Short-Term Military Leave from Southwest from January 1, 2001 to December 31, 2013. You may also be eligible to have accrued sick leave added to your sick leave balance or receive a cash payment if you took Short-Term Military Leave from Southwest from January 1, 2001 to December 5, 2018. To the extent feasible, any retirement-related payments under this Settlement will be made as an additional employer contribution to your 401(k) Plan account in a tax-deferred manner.
If, 30 days after the Settlement becomes final and non-appealable (“Effective Date”), you are a current Southwest employee who is eligible to recover under the Settlement, all accrued sick leave that you are entitled to receive will be added to your sick leave balance. If, 30 days after the Effective Date of the Settlement, you are a former Southwest employee who is eligible to recover under the Settlement, you will receive a one-time payment of $1,000, unless you are a retired pilot and have exchanged your accrued sick leave for continued health care coverage and are still receiving continued health care coverage, in which case you will receive all accrued sick leave that you are entitled to receive under the Settlement for use toward continued health coverage.
Final approval was granted to the Settlement on October 4, 2019.