United Profit Sharing Plan Military Leave Litigation

White v. United Airlines, Inc., et al., No. 19-cv-00114 (N.D. Ill.)

Summary of the Lawsuit

This lawsuit alleges that United Airlines, Inc. and United Continental Holdings, Inc. violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (“USERRA”) by failing to pay normal wages to employees who took short-term military leave and/or provide credit under the United Continental Holdings, Inc. Profit Sharing Plan for periods of military leave.

Summary of the Claims

USERRA protects the rights of servicemembers who take a leave of absence from their employer to perform qualified military service by requiring military leave to be treated as no less favorably than other comparable forms of leave with respect to benefits that employees received during leaves of absence.

The complaint alleges that Defendants violated USERRA in two ways: (1) Defendants violated USERRA’s requirement to treat military leave as no less favorably than other comparable forms of leave by failing to pay normal salaries to employees who had left on short-term military leave; and (2) Defendants violated USERRA’s requirement that all employee pension benefit plans treat military service as continued service for an employer by failing to provide credit under the Profit Sharing Plan to employees on short-term military leave.

Class Action Allegations

This lawsuit is brought on behalf of the following classes:

1. The Paid Leave Class: Current or former employees of United Continental Holdings, Inc., United Airlines, Inc. Continental Airlines, Inc., and/or any of their subsidiaries or predecessors, who during their employment with any of these entities took short-term military leave from their employment and during such short-term military leave were not paid the wages or salary that they would have earned had they continued to work their ordinary work schedules from January 1, 2006, through the date of judgment in this action.

2. The Profit Sharing Class: Qualified Employees under the United Continental Holdings, Inc. Profit Sharing Plan who took short-term military leave or long-term military leave from their employment with any Employer under the Plan during a Plan Year in which they were eligible to receive an award under the Plan (or would have been eligible to receive an award under the Plan if their earnings associated with their military leave had been credited), from January 1, 2006, through the date of judgment in this action.

Excluded from the Classes are any members of the Committee who were responsible for administering the Profit Sharing Plan, any person to whom UCH and/or the Committee delegated authority to manage or control the administration of the Plan, and all former or current employees who previously reached settlements with or judgments against Defendants in USERRA actions concerning United’s failure to pay wages or salaries during periods of short-term military leave and United’s failure to credit employees’ military service for the purposes of calculating profit sharing awards.

Status of the Litigation

The Complaint was filed on January 7, 2019. Defendants have not yet responded to the Complaint. The Amended Complaint was filed on March 29, 2019.

Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint on April 19, 2019.

The Court granted Defendants' Motion to Dismiss on July 10, 2019. Plaintiff appealed the order to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. After oral argument on September 21, 2020, the Seventh Circuit reversed the dismissal on February 3, 2021 and remanded the case to the lower court for further proceedings.

The case is currently in discovery.

Whom to Contact for More Information

If you are a member of the proposed class or you have information which might assist us in the prosecution of these allegations, please contact one of the following persons:

R. Joseph Barton, Esq. (jbarton@blockleviton.com)
Ming Siegel, Paralegal (ming@blockleviton.com)
Block & Leviton LLP
1735 20th Street NW
Washington DC 20009
(202) 734-7046

Block & Leviton is co-counsel in this litigation with Outten & Golden LLP, Crotty & Son Law Firm, PLLC, and the Law Office of Thomas G. Jarrard LLC.