There is an interesting new filing out of Washington state where a nonbinary flight attendant, Justin Wetherell, is suing Alaska Airlines. Wetherell alleges the airline’s uniform and presentation requirements discriminate against nonbinary and gender-fluid employees.
Wetherell, who uses the pronouns they, them, and their, is proceeding under the Washington Law Against Discrimination, which prohibits discrimination against employees based on their sexual orientation, including “gender expression or identity.” The complaint states:
“Justin’s gender expression is fluid, meaning that Justin’s external manifestations of gender are not exclusively masculine or feminine. Consistent with their gender identity and gender expression, Justin dresses and grooms in a manner that is not associated with traditional, rigid male or female dress or grooming standards. For example, Justin maintains facial hair, has long hair, wears makeup, and dresses in a manner not typical of the gender binary.”
The airline’s uniform conditions are similar to other companies and detail “masculine” or “feminine” standards including presentation of hair, jewelry, and makeup.
Wetherell requested accommodations, such as being able to wear heels that mix “male” and “female” uniforms. That request was denied by the Alaska Airlines. The airline recently allowed more flexibility including greater leeway on hair styles, tattoos, and piercings.
Wetherell first filed a complaint with the Washington Human Rights Commission in 2020. According to the ACLU (which is representing Wetherell), the commission “uncovered evidence to support Justin’s claims” and that there was “adverse employment action of being required to dress and groom in a manner that is not consistent with [Justin’s] gender identity and gender expression.’”
The Virgin Atlantic just issued new gender neutral uniform policies.
You can read the complaint here.