Wash. Attorney General Challenges Discriminatory Gendered Dress Code at Alaska Airlines

Affiliate: ACLU of Washington
December 13, 2022 10:30 am

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CONTACT: Gillian Branstetter, ACLU, gbranstetter@aclu.org

SEATTLE — The Office of the Washington State Attorney General filed a complaint yesterday before the Washington State Office of Administrative Proceedings on behalf of the state’s Human Rights Commission challenging the uniform and grooming policies of Alaska Airlines for violating the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD). This filing comes nearly two years after American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of Washington client Justin Wetherell filed a complaint with the commission, informing it that Alaska Airlines’ policies discriminated against the airline’s employees who, like Justin, are nonbinary and gender fluid.

“I hope the filing from the state of Washington will push Alaska Airlines to finally fix their discriminatory and illegal uniform policy,” said Justin Wetherell, an Alaska Airlines flight attendant since 2014. “I look forward to a resolution of my three-year struggle to have my gender identity and expression respected by my employer.”

The commission initiated an investigation into Justin’s complaint and uncovered evidence to support Justin’s claims that they were “subjected to the adverse employment action of being required to dress and groom in a manner that is not consistent with their gender identity and gender expression.” Three months after the commission concluded its investigation and found that, “[a] preponderance of the evidence supports a finding that [Justin] was discriminated against in employment on the basis of gender identity and gender expression[,]” Alaska Airlines continues to maintain the same policy.

“Today’s filing sends an important message on behalf of all workers facing discriminatory and archaic dress codes at work,” said Malita Picasso, staff attorney for the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project. “The airline industry has a long history of enforcing discriminatory rules governing employees’ appearance, and Alaska Airlines has a chance to bring that history to an end. We are eager for this matter to be resolved fairly and efficiently, and for Alaska Airlines to allow Justin and other employees to use the airline’s uniform and grooming options that respect their rights as workers and as individuals.”

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