Sun Country Airlines is facing a lawsuit alleging it fired a dozen employees in retaliation for supporting a union formed in January.
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters filed a lawsuit Wednesday afternoon in U.S. District Court, seeking unspecified damages for fired Sun Country ramp agents Monique Crisp and Sly Oliver as well as 10 other unnamed employees. The lawsuit asks for reinstatement to their jobs at Minneapolis-based Sun Country and for the airline's chief executive to read the court's order to employees.
"While Sun Country does not comment on specific personnel matters, we want to be clear that we do not, and have not, terminated employees for forming or supporting the formation of a union," said Wendy Burt, a spokeswoman for the growing leisure carrier.
The fleet employees' vote, announced Jan. 3, was 46-32 in favor of forming a union. Ballots went out to 205 eligible fleet service workers in November. A simple majority of the returned ballots needed to vote yes for union approval.
The union and the airline do not yet have a contract.
Oliver claimed Sun Country terminated him in January as a "scare tactic" meant to make him an example for his active union support. Crisp, also an active union supporter, said last month: "I feel like they were looking for an opportunity to fire me."
According to the complaint filed Wednesday, the Teamsters airline division and Teamsters Local 970 seek to stop Sun Country from unlawful retaliation against fleet service workers who openly and publicly exercised their rights to advocate for union representation, including the carrier's discharge of union supporters just two weeks after they won their election for Teamsters representation.
The Teamsters allege the airline is trying to destroy the new union by attacking its supporters and union leaders and ask the court forbid Sun Country from interfering with collective bargaining activities. The union accuses Sun Country of tightening its work rules with stricter application because of the vote for the union.
The complaint said Sun Country fired Oliver, who started as a part-time ramp agent in October 2021, on Jan. 21 after he escorted a Teamsters official around Sun Country's airport workspaces during his time off a previous day. A manager told him the airline let him go because he had brought an unauthorized person on the tarmac.
He had no prior disciplinary or corrective action and later learned in a letter a Jan. 20 absence when his wife had surgery also contributed to his termination. Oliver had called in that day to notify about his absence and, in the past, the carrier had been understanding in such cases, the complaint said.
Sun Country fired Crisp after a colleague had asked her to switch shifts but then failed to show up for said shift. Crisp, who worked as a ramp agent for Sun Country for a year, had taken time off work the previous July after sciatica and muscles spasms diagnoses.
A supervisor told her and other employees on Jan. 23 because of the union, the carrier had to "crack down" on discipline, the complaint said. She stood up to him in support of the union, saying that wasn't true. Other fleet service workers heard this retaliatory and threatening comment from their airline supervisor, the complaint said.
Her termination letter noted she had received written warning about attendance issues on Jan. 11, shortly after the union's approval, the complaint said. Although the carrier had previously been lenient with her absences, the lawsuit said Sun Country became stricter and fired her on Feb. 2.