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Alaska Airlines Ordered to Scrap Male and Female Uniforms in Major Win For Non-Binary Flight Attendant

Alaska Airlines Ordered to Scrap Male and Female Uniforms in Major Win For Non-Binary Flight Attendant

A years-long legal battle by a non-binary flight attendant has resulted in Alaska Airlines being ordered to ditch traditional male and female uniform rules.

The order came in the form of a consent decree between the Washington state attorney general’s office and Alaska Airlines following an investigation into the Seattle-based carrier’s uniform and grooming rules.

The lawsuit was brought by Justin Wetherell, a long-serving flight attendant who also works as a crew instructor for Alaska, who complained that the airline’s rules discriminated against staff who identified themselves as non-binary.

Last September, an investigation by the Washington State Human Rights Commission concluded that Alaska Airlines had indeed discriminated against Wetherell on the basis of gender identity and gender expression.

Wetherell started his campaign when Alaska Airlines rolled out a brand-new uniform in 2019. When the airline introduced the new look, it also introduced new uniform and grooming rules which included forcing flight attendants to choose between a ‘male’ uniform or a ‘female’ uniform.

Following an intervention from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the airline made some major changes to its uniform policy in March 2022, but managers still insisted that staffers comply with standards based on either a ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ look.

For example, employees with facial hair weren’t allowed to wear ‘female’ garments, and someone wearing the ‘male’ uniform was barred from wearing tinted lip gloss or certain shades of lipstick.

The consent decree means that Alaska Airlines will now drop these rules, and the airline has also agreed to provide additional equality training to employees.

“This took far more time than I expected and had a severe negative impact on my mental and emotional health. However, I would do it again in a heartbeat,” Wetherell said after the consent decree was announced.

“This is the right thing for me, for Alaska Airlines, and for many other non-binary, transgender and gender non-conforming people. This victory sets the groundwork for other similarly affected individuals to have an easier time fixing discriminatory policies,” Wetherell continued.

Alaska Airlines has also been ordered to pay $70,000 to Wetherell and $40,000 to the ACLU to cover legal fees.

View Comments (7)
  • Good for Alaskan Airlines, the ACLU, and especially Justin!

    There is so much misinformation on individual gender identity. It is spread to create fear of the other. Humans have been doing this forever for power and it’s never good for individual liberty and freedom And usually distracts the masses from the tax breaks given to the rich

    I don’t see the cause for alarm nor fear the reality of who individuals consider themselves. I have a lot of respect for those pushing for a more equitable society like Justin What a great name for a advocate

    My respect centers on listening and acknowledging Trans Folks own stories of knowing & realizing they weren’t quite what they might appear they were and they set off to make themselves whole. And of course science and medicine affirm the reality for needed support and acceptance

    These folks aren’t a harm to others in anyway other than the harm of somebody’s sensibilities being challenged. In this case perhaps an apparent male FA wearing a kilt like skirt .

    Coming out and living openly is not easy at all for these folks and yet they are. This alone is enough for my complete support and love

  • I am sooo grateful that I was born heterosexual to heterosexual parents and then spent forty years as a heterosexual flight attendant with a major European carrier. It spared me sooo much time wasting time about inconsequential issues when life is too damn short in the first place! And my heterosexual flight attendant wife and myself have a blissful existence with our hitherto-heterosexual offspring. But we could be considered ‘odd’ these days… for which I (apparently?) need to apologise?

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