Flyer beware: Alaska Airlines has made a huge concession in its ongoing legal battle involving the State of Washington and a male flight attendant who wanted to wear the female uniform for the flight attendance.
Justin Wetherell, a flight attendant and instructor at the airline, believes he is “nonbinary” and found it challenging to follow the airline’s uniform and grooming policies that are based on outdated sex stereotypes.
Nonbinary means the person does not believe there are only male and female mammals.
According to Wetherell and the ACLU, the company policy conflicts with the man’s nonbinary gender identity and “fluid gender expression,” which led to him being misgendered at work.
In the complaint filed by Wetherell, the ACLU, and Washington State Human Rights Commission against Alaska Airlines, it was argued that the airline’s gender-specific uniform policy violated the Washington State Law Against Discrimination. This law allows all employees to dress and groom in a way consistent with their gender identity and expression. In other words, a male flight attendant may wear a dress and also sport a beard or mustache if he chooses. He may also pair that beard with lipstick and makeup, as in he can come to work in drag.
Last week, a consent decree was issued after an agreement was reached between Alaska Airlines and the Washington State Attorney General’s Office. Alaska Airlines agreed to pay Wetherell $70,000 and separately pay the ACLU $40,000 for its legal fees.
As part of the settlement, the company will modify its uniform policy to remove all gender-based restrictions and language related to uniform pieces, facial hair, jewelry, and makeup.