In May 2010, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued the U.S. Air Marshal Service for forcing male and female flight attendants to wear the same uniform. While the ACLU has since changed its name to the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Freedom Project, the suit remains in place. The ACLU has claimed the policy raises workplace safety issues because flight attendants’ genders could be confused in an emergency.
There are many reasons people choose to fly. Business, pleasure, and family all come together to form our love for the sky. We can’t imagine life without the constant buzz of an airplane wing up against our face. But that buzz is about to be quieted. A New York federal court has issued a ruling that threatens airlines with hefty fines if they do not force flight attendants to wear unisex uniforms. The ACLU is hailing the decision as a victory for transgender rights. Critics are calling it a selective interpretation of the law that could set a dangerous precedent.
In 2014, the Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights was signed into law by President Obama. This new law required that uniformed flight attendants must wear a uniform that’s gender-neutral. The ACLU filed a complaint against the Department of Transportation for this requirement. So, what should flight attendants do?
ACLU threatens to sue airline that forces flight attendants to choose male or female uniforms
Gary Leff 5. June 2023 It’s hard to get the culture war out of my head. I understand the importance of bathroom laws and transgender participation in school sports, but those are not my priorities. With their help, Republicans win elections in the short term and lose in the long term – like then-Governor Pete Wilson, who largely destroyed the California Republican Party by tying his career to proposition 187 (the Save Our State initiative). But the cultural problems aren’t going away; they’re just expanding, this time involving Alaska Airlines, which is being sued by the ACLU for forcing flight attendants to choose between male and female uniforms.
Although TSA requires passengers to select their gender as part of the security identification system, passengers can now select indefinitely or not, in the same way that many states now allow an X to be selected on a driver’s license to indicate gender. But flight attendants don’t get to choose X when it comes to uniforms. Although Alaska recognizes transgender employees and accommodates their needs, the regulations do not address the rights and needs of employees who do not identify as male or female or who are gender-neutral.
The ACLU represents Justin Wetherell, an Alaska Airlines flight attendant and instructor who identifies as non-binary and feels trapped by Alaska’s current uniform policy. … I am willing to abide by all elements of the uniform policy for professional attire, just as I do when I work as an instructor, but I do not want to be forced to wear a binary uniform that excludes me and causes me to be misunderstood at work. The flight attendant wants to take on some of the men’s uniforms and some of the women’s uniforms, but that doesn’t meet the airline’s branding and image standards.
The ACLU also complains that the uniform standards not only discriminate against non-binary flight attendants but also disadvantage any flight attendant who does not fit the preferred image of an Alaska Airlines male or female. When Delta introduced the famous red dress as an option for flight attendants (before the current purple pass), unions complained that the sexy red dress was not offered in plus sizes and that pilots judged the figure of Delta flight attendants based on whether they were RDQ (Red Dress Qualified).
The archetype here is the flight attendant made famous by the airline’s Deltalina safety video. In the Love Airlines case, Southwest claimed the right to hire only attractive young women as flight attendants to attract the attention of the then predominantly male businessmen. A federal court has ruled that the essence of Southwest Airlines’ business is transportation, not sexual attraction and that its employment policies, therefore, constitute unlawful sex discrimination. (On the other hand, a company with an explicit sexual orientation may discriminate in this way).
Since flight attendants work primarily for your safety, I don’t think the image is that important with US airlines. On the other hand, discrimination law in most jurisdictions is not as well developed when it comes to addressing non-binary issues. I’ll leave it to those who know the relevant laws to judge the ACLU’s claims on their merits, but from a political standpoint, I wouldn’t push the button. Fortunately, this is not a political issue, but rather a legal one, since Alaska Airlines is headquartered in Washington state, but it may still come up on Tucker Carlson’s show tonight.
Lake View from the Wing
After years of effort, the LGBTQ community is finally gaining some acceptance in mainstream society. But, as with any movement, it’s still got some work to do. Despite their best efforts, many transgender individuals still face obstacles when attempting to live their authentic lives. In response, members of the transgender community have launched a new campaign aimed at eliminating the systemic discrimination that continues to trouble the community.. Read more about flight attendant pay and let us know what you think.