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MICHAEL MOSS, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated v. UNITED AIRLINES, INC.,et al.
Case Number: 20-3246
Judge: Kenneth Francis Ripple
United States Court of Appeals
For the Seventh Circuit
On appeal from The United States District Court for the
Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division
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Defendant's Attorney: United Airlines Attorney’s Office
Chicago, IL - Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Acte lawyer represented defendant with dicrimination claim.
From April 1, 2005, to 2010, United Air Lines pilots, who
also served in the reserve components of the Armed Forces
of the United States and were called periodically to active
duty, accrued sick time throughout their entire military
leave. In contrast, Continental Pilots, who served the Country in the same capacity, accrued sick time only through the
first thirty days of their military leave during the same period.
1 The court further held that military leave was not comparable to other
forms of leave offered by United. This part of the district court’s holding
is not at issue on this appeal.
No. 20-3246 3
In 2010, these two airlines began a merger process. They
first became wholly owned subsidiaries of United Continental Holdings. During this stage, the separate bargaining
agreements of each legacy airline continued to govern for
two years. In March 2013, United and Continental merged
into a single entity—United Airlines.2 Nevertheless, the policies of the two legacy airlines continued in effect until United Airlines standardized the sick-time policy in 2014: “[A]ll
pilots only accrued sick time during the first ninety (90) days
of military leave.”3
The operative collective bargaining agreement sets forth
United Airlines’ post-standardization policy: “[F]or each Bid
Period of Active Employment, five (5) hours of sick leave
shall be deposited into a Pilot’s sick leave bank up to a maximum of 1300 hours.”4 “Active Employment” is when “a Pilot is available for assignment, on sick leave or on vacation
for any part of a Bid Period.”5 A Bid Period is, essentially,
one month. Therefore, all pilots accrue a consistent five
hours of sick time per Bid Period. Two final provisions on
United’s sick-time policy are also relevant: (a) “Sick leave
with pay shall be granted only in cases of actual sickness[,]”
2 Before the merger, “United Air Lines” had a space; following the merger, the space was removed: “United Airlines.”
3 R.95-1 at 4. We will refer to pilots or leave policies from before 2014 as,
for example, the “legacy United pilots” or “legacy Continental leave.”
Anything after 2014 will be the “modern” or “current” era.
4 R.94-2 § 13-A-1.
5 Id. § 2-A.
4 No. 20-3246
and (b) “upon separation of employment, a Pilot shall not
receive payment for any balance in his sick leave bank.”6
United Air Lines hired Michael Moss, the plaintiff, in early 2000. On September 16, 2009, United Air Lines placed
Mr. Moss on furlough, but he was hired by Continental on
January 24, 2012. He continued working at United Airlines
through the merger process. Throughout the relevant time
period, he also held a commission as a Lieutenant Colonel in
the Reserve Component of the United States Marine Corps.
On August 30, 2016, Mr. Moss brought this action against
United Airlines, alleging violations of USERRA. Count I (the
only Count at issue on appeal) alleged that United violated
USERRA by denying sick-time accrual to pilots on military
leave because (a) sick time is a seniority-based benefit and
thus should have continuously accrued; or (b) sick-time accrual was available to pilots on comparable periods of leave.
Count II made the same allegations about vacation time accrual; Count III addressed the same alleged violations with
respect to pension payments.
The district court certified classes for each Count. The
sick-time class for Count I is comprised of:
All past and present pilots employed by the
Company from April 1, 2005, to the present,
who: (i) did not accrue sick time while on periods of military leave from April 1, 2005, to the
present; and (ii) were not at the maximum sick
6 Id. § 13-A-5; Id. § 13-B.
No. 20-3246 5
leave accrual level of 1,300 hours at the time of
their military leave(s) of absence or at any time
The parties moved for summary judgment. United asked
for summary judgment on all counts; Mr. Moss only asked
for summary judgment on Counts I and II.
The district court granted United’s motion as to Counts I
and II. The district court first addressed Count II (vacation
accrual) and held that “the ‘real nature’ of vacation days in
this case is not a reward for length of service. Thus, vacation
days are not a seniority-based benefit under the collective
7 R.68 at 7. When the class definition sweeps within it individuals who
could not have suffered injury, it is too broad. See Kohen v. Pac. Inv.
Mgmt. Co., 571 F.3d 672, 677 (7th Cir. 2009). In TransUnion LLC v. Ramirez,
141 S. Ct. 2190, 2205 (2021), the Supreme Court reminded us that “Article
III grants federal courts the power to redress harms that defendants
cause plaintiffs, not a freewheeling power to hold defendants accountable for legal infractions.” Id. at 2205 (quoting Casillas v. Madison Ave. Assocs., Inc., 926 F.3d 329, 332 (7th Cir. 2019)). It also made clear that plaintiffs must “maintain their personal interest in the dispute at all stages of
litigation.” Id. at 2208. Article III standing, the irreducible constitutional
minimum, requires a plaintiff to have suffered an injury in fact. Lujan v.
Defs. of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560 (1992).
Although it did not have the benefit of TransUnion when it focused
on the class definition issue, the district court nevertheless examined the
necessity of injury in fact. On this record, we are not prepared to say that
the district court erred. Nevertheless, we note that the advent of
TransUnion sets the stage for a renewed examination of the intersection
of the demands of Article III and the requirements of Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
6 No. 20-3246
bargaining agreement.”8 In reaching this conclusion, the district court rejected Mr. Moss’s argument that vacation-time
accrual is a seniority-based benefit because it “accrues solely
with the passage of time.”9 Noting that “this is true of any
employment benefit,” the court concluded that this characteristic “is not particularly informative, let alone dispositive,
of whether vacation day accrual is seniority-based.”10
The court then concluded that “[s]ince vacation days are
not a seniority-based benefit, Plaintiffs are entitled to only
the ‘other’ benefits ‘generally provided,’ to employees on
‘comparable leaves of absence.’”11 The district court disagreed with Mr. Moss that United’s jury duty, association
leave, and sick leave are “‘comparable’ to military leave,
such that vacation time accrual should be available to military leave longer than 90 days.”12
8 R.106 at 8; cf. Ala. Power Co. v. Davis, 431 U.S. 581, 589 (1977) (“If the
benefit … is in the nature of a reward for length of service, it is a ‘perquisite of seniority.’”); Accardi v. Penn. R.R. Co., 383 U.S. 225, 230 (1966)
(“The use of the label ‘compensated service’ cannot obscure the fact that
the real nature of these payments was compensation for loss of jobs.”).
9 R.106 at 7 (quoting R.95 at 11).
10 Id. at 8.
11 Id. at 9 (first quoting 38 U.S.C. § 4316(b)(1)(B); and then quoting Crews
v. City of Mt. Vernon, 567 F.3d 860, 865 (7th Cir. 2009)).
12 Id. at 10–13. Mr. Moss has dropped this argument from his appeal.
Instead, he argues that United’s legacy military leave policy should be
compared to Continental’s legacy military leave policy.
No. 20-3246 7
Having disposed of Count II (vacation accrual), the district court turned to Count I, the sick-time accrual claim, and
entered summary judgment for United. It stated:
Likely because there is no material difference
in the accrual of “sick time” and “vacation
time” under the collective bargaining agreement, Plaintiffs’ arguments on Count I mirror
their arguments on Count II. Therefore, the
Court grants summary judgment to Defendants on Count I for the same reasons it grants
summary judgment to Defendants on
The district court then addressed potential objections
based upon the collective bargaining agreement’s different
policies on the accrual of sick time and the accrual of vacation time. The court explained that “the numbers of hours or
days accrued, and the rates of accrual” are “differences in
the ‘particular formulas’ by which accrual is ‘calculated,’ and
thus are not material to the Court’s analysis.”14
The parties subsequently settled Count III, and the district court approved that settlement on October 19, 2020. After the approval of the settlement, the district court entered
13 Id. at 13–14 (footnote omitted). Mr. Moss contends that the district
court’s treatment of Count I violated Circuit Rule 50 for not adequately
documenting the reasons for the grant of summary judgment. We disagree. The district court’s rationale was clear from the record and the
court’s opinion. See Stoller v. Pure Fishing Inc., 528 F.3d 478, 480 (7th Cir.
14 R.106 at 13 n.6 (quoting Ala. Power, 431 U.S. at 592).
8 No. 20-3246
final judgment, and Mr. Moss timely appealed the grant of
summary judgment on Count I, the sick-time accrual claim.
“We review the district court’s grant of summary judgment de novo.” Flexible Steel Lacing Co. v. Conveyor Accessories, Inc., 955 F.3d 632, 643 (7th Cir. 2020). “Summary judgment is appropriate when ‘there is no genuine dispute as to
any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law.’” Id. (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a)). Here the
facts are not disputed.
We also note that it is well established that any “interpretative doubt is to be resolved in the veteran’s favor,” Brown
v. Gardner, 513 U.S. 115, 118 (1994), and that “provisions for
benefits to members of the Armed Services are to be construed in the beneficiaries’ favor,” King v. St. Vincent’s Hosp.,
502 U.S. 215, 220 n.9 (1991).
USERRA is the modern iteration of a line of statutes designed to protect employment and reemployment rights of
those who serve in the Armed Forces. First, the Selective
Training and Service Act of 1940 required private employers
to reemploy qualified military veterans to their previous position or “to a position of like seniority, status, and pay.”
Pub. L. No. 76-783, § 8(b)(3)(C), 54 Stat. 885, 890 (codified at
50 U.S.C. § 301 et seq. (repealed 1955)). In an early case interpreting the Selective Training and Service Act, the Supreme
Court gave breath to what has become known as the “escalator principle”: “[The returning servicemember] does not step
back on the seniority escalator at the point he stepped off.
No. 20-3246 9
He steps back on at the precise point he would have occupied had he kept his position continuously during the war.”
Fishgold v. Sullivan Drydock & Repair Corp., 328 U.S. 275, 284–
85 (1946). This principle was codified in the Veterans’
Reemployment Rights Act15 and continues to be a foundational principle of seniority-based reemployment rights under USERRA.
Enacted in 1994, USERRA serves three purposes:
(1) to encourage noncareer service in the uniformed services by eliminating or minimizing
the disadvantages to civilian careers and employment which can result from such service;
(2) to minimize the disruption to the lives of
persons performing service in the uniformed
services as well as to their employers, their fellow employees, and their communities, by
providing for the prompt reemployment of
such persons upon their completion of such
(3) to prohibit discrimination against persons
because of their service in the uniformed services.
38 U.S.C. § 4301. USERRA was not intended to change or
disrupt the longstanding caselaw developed under the predecessor statutes. Congress viewed the existing law protect15 The Veterans’ Reemployment Rights Act was enacted as part of the
Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974. Pub. L.
No. 93-508, § 404, 88 Stat. 1578, 1594 (1974).
10 No. 20-3246
ing veterans’ rights and the cases interpreting those laws as
“successful,” and intended them to remain in full effect, to
the extent consistent with USERRA. 20 C.F.R. § 1002.2.
Mr. Moss first submits that he is entitled to sick-pay credit during his time of military service because sick pay is a
seniority benefit of his employment with United. He views
sick time as a future-oriented benefit because it provides
economic security in case of illness. In support of this characterization, Mr. Moss notes that sick-time accrual does not
expire annually, can only be used if an employee is sick, and
is not paid out at the end of an employee’s employment. The
work requirement is, in his view, illusory because the benefit
accrues without the performance of actual work; working
additional hours cannot increase the sick time accrued.
These considerations, considered together, demonstrate, in
his view, that United’s sick-time accrual is a perquisite of
seniority and therefore should have accrued while Mr. Moss
was on military leave.
United disagrees. In its view, sick-time accrual is not a
seniority-based benefit for two main reasons. First, all employees earn the same amount of sick time. There is no vesting threshold; employees start to accrue sick time on their
first day of work. Second, employees can only use sick time
when they are actually sick. Employees cannot bank time
over years knowing that the time can be used for a longer
vacation later, thus incentivizing them to keep working.
In assessing these views, we begin, as we always do, with
the words of the statutory provision:
No. 20-3246 11
A person who is reemployed under this chapter is entitled to the seniority and other rights
and benefits determined by seniority that the
person had on the date of the commencement
of service in the uniformed services plus the
additional seniority and rights and benefits
that such person would have attained if the
person had remained continuously employed.
38 U.S.C. § 4316(a). Thus, returning servicemembers step
back onto the seniority escalator where they would have
been but for the military service; they receive any seniority-based benefits to which they would have been entitled
had they remained continuously employed.
A right and benefit is seniority-based if the right (1)
“would have accrued, with reasonable certainty, had the
veteran been continuously employed by the private employer”; and (2) if “it is in the nature of a reward for length of
service.” Ala. Power Co. v. Davis, 431 U.S. 581, 589 (1977);16
DeLee v. City of Plymouth, 773 F.3d 172, 177–78, 180 (7th Cir.
2014) (applying the Alabama Power test); see also 20 C.F.R.
§ 1002.212 (listing the factors set forth in the Alabama Power
test, along with one factor not relevant here,17
guidance to determine if a benefit is seniority-based).
16 Although Alabama Power pre-dates USERRA, the Alabama Power test
and pre-USERRA case law remain in full effect to the extent consistent
with USERRA. See, e.g., Crews, 567 F.3d at 865 (citing 20 C.F.R. § 1002.2).
17 Whether United had an “actual custom or practice to provide or withhold the right or benefit as a reward for length of service” only applies
where the actual practice differs from the practice on paper. 20 C.F.R.
(continued … )
12 No. 20-3246
The Supreme Court of the United States, like the district
court in this case, has pointed out that although the principles set forth in Alabama Power are straightforward, their application in a practical setting is not always easy. See Coffy v.
Republic Steel Corp., 447 U.S. 191, 203 (1980) (“[E]ven the
most traditional kinds of seniority privileges could be as easily tied to a work requirement as to the more usual criterion
of time as an employee.” (quoting Ala. Power, 431 U.S. at
592)). As the district court noted, the difficulty is rooted in
the practical reality that there is an “inherent tie between
time and work” and a lack of an “objective difference between a ‘work requirement’ (or ‘compensation for services
rendered’) and ‘time as an employee’ (or ‘length of service’),
because employees spend their time working.”18
The Supreme Court wrestled with this conceptual problem in Foster v. Dravo Corp., 420 U.S. 92 (1975). There, Foster
worked for his employer at the beginning of 1967, left for
military service, and was reemployed for the remainder of
1968. Id. at 94–95. Although he did not meet the required
twenty-five weeks of work for vacation benefits, he asked
his employer for the vacation time accrued during both
years. Id. at 95. The Supreme Court did not sustain his claim;
( … continued)
§ 1002.212(c); see also id. (“Provisions of an employment contract or policies in the employee handbook are not controlling if the employer’s actual custom or practice is different from what is written in the contract or
handbook.”). Here there is no allegation that United’s actual practice of
providing sick time differed from that written in the collective bargaining agreement.
18 R.106 at 4 (emphasis omitted).
No. 20-3246 13
it decided that the vacation benefits at issue were properly
characterized as “short-term compensation for work performed.” Id. at 100. In reaching that decision, the Supreme
Court considered the work requirement, the option to earn
more vacation time through overtime, and the pro rata payout if an employee left his employment early. In the final
analysis, however, the nature of the benefit, the “common
conception of a vacation as a reward for and respite from a
lengthy period of labor” convinced the Court that the statutory provision protecting seniority rights did not apply. Id. at
101. Foster did not hold that all vacation-time accrual was a
nonseniority benefit. The Court explicitly noted that “the
statute should be applied only where it clearly appears that
vacations were intended to accrue automatically as a function of continued association with the company.” Id.
In Alabama Power, by contrast, the Court reasoned that
the pension plans at issue were seniority based because their
“true nature” was a reward for length of service. 431 U.S. at
593. “The most significant factor pointing to this conclusion
is the lengthy period required for pension rights to vest in
the employee.” Id. In Coffy, the Court considered the case of
an individual who had been laid off after his return from a
period of military service. He received supplemental unemployment benefits for twenty-five weeks. Coffy, 447 U.S. at
193. Had his civilian work history not been interrupted by a
period of military service, he would have received fifty-two
weeks of supplemental unemployment benefits. Id. at 193–
94. The Supreme Court held the unemployment benefits
were seniority based: Their essential function “is to provide
economic security for regular employees in the event they
are laid off. Protection against layoff is, of course, one of the
traditional attributes of seniority.” Id. at 200. Furthermore,
14 No. 20-3246
the employees in Coffy were only entitled to the benefits if
they had worked two continuous years prior to being terminated. Id. at 198–99. Thus, the benefits were a “reward for
length of service.” Id. at 205.
Two of our fellow circuits already have addressed the
question we face today. Although each court understandably focused on the facts of the case before it, the reasoning of
each court is helpful. In LiPani v. Bohack Corp., 546 F.2d 487,
490 (2d Cir. 1976), our colleagues in the Second Circuit characterized sick leave as a form of deferred compensation of
the same general nature as vacation pay. The sick time at issue there was predicated upon a work requirement: “one
week of paid vacation accrues after ‘six months of continuous working service.’” Id. Also, there was no relationship
between seniority and the benefits; all employees earned the
same amount of sick time during each year of employment.
Id. at 490–91. The Tenth Circuit came to the same conclusion,
holding sick-time accrual to be nonseniority-based because it
was tied to a work requirement. Jackson v. Beech Aircraft
Corp., 517 F.2d 1322, 1326 (10th Cir. 1975), overruled on other
grounds by Ala. Power, 431 U.S. 581; see also Hoefert v. Am. Airlines, Inc., 438 F. Supp. 3d 724, 735–36 (N.D. Tex. 2020) (holding sick-time accrual to not be a seniority-based benefit
where tied to a “month of service”).
We now assess United’s sick-time accrual policy under
the decisional matrix provided by Alabama Power. We first
ask whether the right “would have accrued, with reasonable
certainty, had the veteran been continuously employed by
the private employer.” This factor—synthesized in Alabama
Power from the existing caselaw—asks whether the benefit
No. 20-3246 15
was awarded automatically or subject to discretion. See
McKinney v. Mo.-Kan.-Tex. R.R. Co., 357 U.S. 265, 272 (1958)
(holding that a discretionary promotion was not a perquisite
of seniority); see also Ala. Power, 431 U.S. at 585 (citing
McKinney in explaining the development of the two-prong
test); Coffy, 447 U.S. at 199.
We answer this question in the affirmative. Mr. Moss
would have continued to accrue sick time with reasonable
certainty if he had been employed continuously by United.
Notably, there is no discretion involved. Had Mr. Moss not
been on military leave, it was reasonably certain that he
would have accrued sick time.
Having determined that the first prong of the two-part
conjunctive test is satisfied, we turn to the second prong:
Whether the benefit is a reward for length of service. Here,
we think it clear that the sick pay in question is not such a
reward. A benefit is seniority-based if the “real nature” of
the benefit is a “reward for length of service” rather than
“compensation for services rendered.” Ala. Power, 431 U.S. at
588–89. Our inquiry is therefore whether the benefit is
backward-looking compensation for work performed or a
future-oriented longevity incentive.
Alabama Power instructs that the “most significant factor
pointing to th[e] conclusion [that the pension payment is a
reward for length of service] is the lengthy period required
for pension rights to vest in the employee.” Id. at 593 (emphasis added). United’s sick-time accrual policy has no vesting period. From their first day at United, all pilots earn five
16 No. 20-3246
hours per Bid Period.19 A lack of a vesting threshold suggests sick-time accrual is not tied to seniority but is deferred
compensation designed to cover those periods when an employee is unable to report for work because of illness, an
event inherent in the human condition.
Nor do United employees accrue more sick time the
longer they have been at the company. Here, all employees
earn the same five hours per Bid Period, day in and day out,
without regard to how long they have been employed. This
consideration also suggests sick time to not be a product of
seniority. See LiPani, 546 F.2d at 490 (finding persuasive the
lack of relationship between seniority and sick-time accrual).
The fact that sick time is not seniority-based becomes
clearer by comparing its real nature to that of other benefits.20 Pensions, severance pay, and supplemental unemployment benefits incentivize workers to continue working
19 Also, we note that United provides for accelerated accrual for a pilot
who uses more than 255 hours of sick leave because of a single illness
and for “fronted” hours for new-hire pilots. R.94-2 § 12-A-1-a to -b.
Mr. Moss does not suggest these facts are relevant, nor do they influence
20 During the enactment of USERRA, the Director of the Office of Veterans’ Employment, Reemployment, and Training testified before Congress that: “Various courts have also found that the returning servicemember is not entitled to benefits such as … sick days … which have
been determined to be short term compensation for work performed.”
Letter from Hary Puente-Duany, Dir., Off. of Veterans’ Emp.,
Reemployment & Training, to Hon. John D. Rockefeller, Chairman,
Comm. on Veterans’ Affs., reprinted in S. Rep. 103-158, at 93 (1993).
No. 20-3246 17
at a company.21 These benefits look to the future—they give
a reason to stay at a job and have accordingly been properly
held to be perquisites of seniority. On the other hand, sick
time is a respite. Without sick time, the employee would
have had to go to work ill; with sick time, the employee has
a respite, a break from their work, as compensation for the
services they have rendered.
Mr. Moss counters that attributes of United’s sick leave
point to characterizing it as seniority-based. Specifically, he
notes that United sick-time accrual does not expire annually,
can only be used if an employee is sick, and is not paid out
at the end of an employee’s employment. We think that
these considerations, whether considered separately or together, reaffirm that sick time is more properly characterized
as a period designed to allow the working employee a respite and to encourage the sick employee to stay away from
the workplace. As Mr. Moss points out, sick time does not
expire annually. This feature might suggest an incentive to
remain at a company (so the employee does not lose their
banked time), but that consideration is certainly reduced in
importance because employees cannot take sick time without actually being sick. Sick time therefore cannot be used to
augment an employment transition, or to extend a vacation.
Moreover, in the ordinary course of human events, sick time
21 Ala. Power, 431 U.S. at 593–94 (pension payments); Accardi, 383 U.S. at
230 (severance pay); Coffy v. Republic Steel Corp., 447 U.S. 191, 205–06
(1980) (supplemental unemployment benefits).
18 No. 20-3246
will be used periodically. It is generally not regarded as protection against long-term illness or disability.22
By contrast, supplemental unemployment benefits, like
those at issue in Coffy, provide economic security based on
seniority. Supplemental unemployment benefits promise income where otherwise the employee would not have received any. In this way, supplemental unemployment benefits encourage employees to stay with an employer based on
the promise of the future benefit. Sick time however offers a
brief respite earned on a pro rata monthly basis, in compensation for labor, to recover and then come back to work. Sick
time does not provide economic security in the same way
that supplemental unemployment benefits do. It only offers
a brief respite.
United’s sick-time accrual policy contains, moreover, a
work requirement. Benefits conditioned on a bona fide work
requirement are more likely to be compensation than a reward for long service. “Generally, the presence of a work requirement is strong evidence that the benefit in question was
intended as a form of compensation.” Foster, 420 U.S. at 99.
Courts read through illusory and insubstantial work requirements—the labels do not control. Compare Accardi v.
Penn. R.R. Co., 383 U.S. 225, 229–30 (1966) (explaining that
the “use of the label ‘compensated service’ cannot obscure”
the illusory nature of the work requirement), with Foster,
420 U.S. at 99 (explaining that providing additional benefits
22 United also offers Medical Leave, Company Offered Leaves of Absence, Family & Medical Leave, and Maternity/Paternity Leave. See
R.94-2 §§ 12-B, -C, -E, -F.
No. 20-3246 19
for overtime and pro rata payment for early termination
suggested that the work requirement was bona fide).
Here, the parties dispute whether the United sick leave
policy contains a legitimate work requirement. We believe
that it does. The collective bargaining agreement contains
the following provision: “for each Bid Period of Active Employment, five (5) hours of sick leave shall be deposited into
a Pilot’s sick leave bank up to a maximum of 1300 hours.”23
“Active Employment” is defined as “a Pilot is available for
assignment, on sick leave or on vacation for any part of a Bid
Period.”24 A Bid Period is defined as “the period from the
first day of, to and including the last day of each of twelve
(12) thirty (30) or thirty-one (31) day periods.”25
Mr. Moss questions whether the requirement that a pilot
need only be available for assignment, on sick leave, or on
vacation, is sufficiently substantial to constitute a bona fide
work requirement. He submits that being “available for assignment” “for any part of a Bid Period” could be seen as
being no real requirement at all. United takes another view.
It sees the work requirement in the collective bargaining
agreement as a real effort to compensate pilots for work actually performed. It points out that the requirement excludes, among other things, personal leave, and thus requires the pilot to actually be working before earning sick
23 R.94-2 § 13-A-1.
24 Id. § 2-A.
25 Id. § 2-I.
20 No. 20-3246
United has the better of the argument. By conditioning
sick-time accrual on “Active Employment,” United conditions accrual on work. Given the nature of a pilot’s scheduling and the industry overall, counting “on call” time as
compensated time for purposes of the sick-time program is
In sum, sick time would have accrued with reasonable
certainty had Mr. Moss remained at United. There was no
discretion involved. There is no vesting period and no relationship between seniority and benefits. All United employees accrue the same five hours per Bid Period, from the new
hire to the most senior pilot. The real nature of sick-time accrual is to provide a respite from work, not to incentivize
USERRA also prohibits providing nonseniority-based
benefits to some employees on leave but not to employees
on comparable military leave. 38 U.S.C. § 4316(b)(1)(B).26
26 This subsection of the statute provides:
(b)(1) … [A] person who is absent from a position of
employment by reason of service in the uniformed services shall be—
(B) entitled to such other rights and benefits not determined by seniority as are generally provided by the employer of the person to employees having similar seniority, status, and pay who are on furlough or leave of absence under a contract, agreement, policy, practice, or
plan in effect at the commencement of such service or established while such person performs such service.
(continued … )
No. 20-3246 21
USERRA therefore mandates that if an employer offers nonseniority-based benefits to an employee taking leave, it must
provide to servicemembers on military leave the “most favorable” benefit offered to employees taking a comparable
leave. 20 C.F.R. § 1002.150(b).
In the district court, Mr. Moss argued that jury duty, association leave, and sick leave were comparable to military
leave such that servicemembers were to be afforded the most
favorable benefits that employees on those nonmilitary
leaves received. The district court held that jury duty, association leave, and sick leave were not comparable to military
leave. Mr. Moss does not renew that argument here, and we
therefore cannot consider it.
Now, Mr. Moss puts forth a new argument. He asks us to
compare legacy military United leave and legacy military
Continental leave. We cannot. Arguments not adequately
presented to the district court are waived on appeal. Fednav
Int’l Ltd. v. Cont’l Ins. Co., 624 F.3d 834, 841 (7th Cir. 2010).
Because Mr. Moss did not adequately present this issue to
the district court, it is waived.
Outcome: We hold that sick-time accrual is not a seniority-based benefit. Accordingly, we affirm the decision of the district court.