The American Civil Liberties Union wrote the letter on behalf of Seattle-based flight attendant Justin Wetherell, whose gender identity is non-binary, or not strictly male or female, and whose expression of genre is fluid and can change over time.
Alaska Airlines is said to have “male” and “female” dress and dress requirements, allowing transgender workers to adhere to standards that match their gender identity, according to the letter. But the policy “demeans employees who do not conform to gender stereotypes and materially interferes with their ability to do their jobs under the same conditions as other employees.”
“Justin has been repeatedly denied the opportunity to meet and discuss flight attendant standards with senior management, and Justin’s perspective as a non-binary individual and complaints of discrimination have been summarily dismissed, “the letter said, alleging that the airline’s policy violates Title VII. of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and of the law of the State of Washington.
Wetherell has filed a discrimination complaint with the Washington State Human Rights Commission, the ACLU told Bloomberg Law. Workers usually have to file bias charges with an administrative body before they can sue, at least under federal law.
Last year, the United States Supreme Court ruled that Title VII prohibited discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and transgender status, but did not specifically address dress codes and other LGBT related issues. Democrats are pushing legislation to further expand federal civil rights protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
“Policies such as the Alaska Airlines Uniform Policy, under which a woman faces discipline or disadvantage for dressing in a way that would be permitted if she were male (or male). faces discipline or disadvantage for dressing in a way that would be if he were female) discriminate “without” the gender of the employee within the meaning of Title VII, ”the letter said.
Joshua Block and Galen Leigh Sherwin, senior ACLU attorneys, and Lisa Nowlin, ACLU attorney for the Washington Foundation, signed the letter.
New airline guidelines
Alaska Airlines spokeswoman Cailee Olson said in an emailed statement that the company is a “long-time supporter of the LGBTQ + community” and has been an “industry leader in inclusiveness in our uniform and grooming standards, which have been informed by our employees and developed in accordance with federal and state laws.
Over the past year, she said, the company has introduced new guidelines designed to provide more inclusive, uniform options for flight attendants.
Since the start of 2020, for example, all flight attendants have been able to order any style of pants or parka and have been able to select whatever uniform kit they want, regardless of their gender identity, said Olson.
“We will also be implementing new gender-neutral hair policies that will allow all flight attendants to comb their hair when not handling food, regardless of their gender,” she said. “We are committed to continuing to explore uniform and grooming standards for our flight attendants. We know we can’t do it alone and appreciate the feedback and partnership we have with our community of flight attendants. “
When asked for a response, the ACLU’s Block said in an emailed statement: “As our letter makes clear, if Alaska Airlines continues to require employees to adhere to either a uniform kit Predetermined “male” and grooming standards, ie a “female” uniform kit and grooming standards, this will violate Washington anti-discrimination law and Title VII. “
He added: “We hope that after further consideration Alaska Airlines will work voluntarily with us to bring its uniform policy into full compliance with the law.”