A Frontier Airlines jet flies over Gloster City, N.J., in 2021. The airline and a company that provides services to Frontier at the Portland International Jetport are being sued by two former employees who say they were wrongfully fired after one of them blew the whistle on improper loading procedures. Matt Rourke/Associated Press

A Westbrook couple has filed a federal lawsuit against Frontier Airlines and an Ohio-based flight services company, claiming they were fired from jobs at Portland International Jetport after one of them blew the whistle on unsafe and illegal baggage loading practices.

Lexus Rodriguez, a specially trained plane loading master, and Jaylyn Romero, who worked as a ticket agent, say they were notified of their termination in a group text message that included two senior staff members of Flight Services & Systems Inc., the lawsuit states.

They say their tandem firing came two days after Rodriguez saw baggage being improperly loaded onto a Frontier passenger jet by Flight Services & Systems employees, and was admonished by Flight Services & Systems and Frontier managers for trying to stop it. The loading dispute happened on a Saturday, Rodriguez called a Frontier hotline the following Monday to report his experience to upper management, and he and his fiancée were fired that afternoon.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Portland, charges Flight Services & Systems and Frontier with retaliation and sex discrimination in the dismissals of Rodriguez and Romero in February 2022, in violation of the Maine Human Rights and Whistleblower’s Protection acts.

“This case is about a concerned and careful load master who was retaliated against and unlawfully terminated for reporting the unsafe and illegal loading practices of Frontier Airlines and Flight Services & Systems Inc.,” the lawsuit states. “This concerned and careful load master sought to ensure the safety of staff and passengers traveling by Frontier Airlines.”

The lawsuit claims Romero’s firing constituted sex discrimination because it came in response to her partner’s actions and was based on “a sexist stereotype that a female partner will always support her male partner’s actions, or that a female partner has the ability and obligation to control her male partner.”


A Frontier spokesperson declined a request for an interview Wednesday, saying that the Denver-based company doesn’t comment on litigation. Flight Services & Systems Inc., based in Cleveland, also declined to comment through its attorney, John Prendergast, a lawyer with Jackson Lewis in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Flight Services & Systems, which operates in 15 locations, is contracted by Frontier and other airlines to provide various aviation services at airports where airlines don’t have their own staff, said Chad Hansen, a lawyer with Maine Employee Rights Group who is representing Rodriguez and Romero. At the time they were fired, Flight Services & Systems provided services for five of seven airlines at the jetport, according to the lawsuit.

The couple filed complaints with the Maine Human Rights Commission in May 2022 and eventually got permission to bring their case to court, so the commission didn’t issue an investigator’s report or make a finding, Hansen said.

The complaint asks that they be reinstated in their jobs or compensated for future lost earnings. It also asks for back pay with benefits, interest, legal costs and compensatory and punitive damages to be determined at trial. Hansen didn’t respond when asked whether Rodriguez and Romero are employed now.

Flight Services & Systems hired Rodriguez in August 2021 and in October sent him to a load master course held by Frontier in Atlanta, where he learned the importance of factoring the weight and balance of baggage when properly loading a Frontier aircraft, the lawsuit states.

“Rodriguez learned that an aircraft that is loaded outside the center of gravity or weight limits can cause loss of control of the aircraft, putting people on the aircraft and on the ground at serious risk of injury or death,” the lawsuit states.


He also learned that Frontier had a loading policy, approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, that required a load master to be present during loading to ensure that all bags are counted and the weight of the plane is balanced according to a load plan issued for each flight, he said in the complaint.

But when Rodriguez arrived on the runway to oversee the loading of a Frontier flight on Feb. 19, 2022, “he discovered that multiple co-workers had already started loading the plane with baggage.”

Rodriguez alerted a Flight Services & Systems manager that the plane was being loaded illegally and that it needed to be offloaded and reloaded in his presence. The manager said the plane was running late and they didn’t have time to offload it. When Rodriguez insisted, the manager told him to “(expletive) offload it yourself” and walked off, the lawsuit states.

Rodriguez said he called his trainer from the load master course and confirmed that he was required to be present during loading. But when he met later that day with an additional Flight Services & Systems manager and a Frontier regional manager, they ultimately determined that he didn’t have to be present during loading, the lawsuit states.

The following Monday, Rodriguez called a Frontier hotline to report what happened and was told that he was correct and they would inform Frontier’s regional manager, the lawsuit says. That manager called Flight Services & Systems to complain that “Rodriguez was reaching out to everyone at Frontier, accusing FSS of not following procedures.”

That afternoon, Rodriguez and Romero received a group text that included two FSS managers. It said, “Good afternoon, Effective immediately you are no longer employed by FSS. Please return your SIDA badges to OPS center ASAP. If you have any questions please contact HR.”

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