Tips and service charges


In 2008, we won a jury trial against American Airlines, challenging the airline’s collection of a $2 per bag charge for curbside check-in and not allowing skycaps to keep this money. After this trial, most airlines stopped charging the $2 per bag fee.

The case was on appeal twice. We won the first appeal in 2009, when the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rejected American’s argument that it could not be liable to skycaps whom it did not directly employ. The Court reinstated the $333,000 verdict for the skycaps who were part of the initial trial. Click here to read the Court’s decision. Click here to watch the oral argument.

In the second appeal, the federal First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in American’s favor and decided that the case is preempted by federal law, thus reversing the verdict we obtained at trial for the nine original Boston skycaps. We filed a petition to appeal this decision to the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

After the jury verdict in favor of the American skycaps, we brought similar claims on behalf of United and US Airways skycaps. The courts ruled that those cases were preempted.

In a companion case we filed against American, which the federal court certified as a national class action on behalf of American skycaps across the country, we have argued that the case should not be preempted under recent Supreme Court caselaw. The district court has ruled that the case is preempted, but we are appealing that ruling.