Delta Cabin Crew Claim New Uniforms Cause Headaches And Skin Rashes

Two Delta Airlines employees have reportedly filed a US federal lawsuit against uniform-maker Lands’ End, alleging new uniforms launched in May 2018 have caused a number of health problems.

Delta Airlines Boeing 777
A Delta Airlines Boeing 777. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Delta News Hub

A report by Wisconsin Public Radio cites details from the federal lawsuit filed on May 22nd by two employees. Lands’ End is based in Dodgeville, Wisconsin.

“Passport Plum” uniforms allegedly cause health problems

Gwyneth Gilbert and Monica DeCrescentis allege the “Passport Plum” uniforms cause skin rashes, headaches, fatigue, breathing difficulties, hair loss, and nausea. The purple dye used in the uniforms also allegedly stains employee’s skin and possessions. According to the lawsuit the two employees “bring this action on behalf of themselves and all similarly-situated individuals,” employees who are “flight attendants and gate agents.” Approximately 24,000 flight attendants and 40,000 gate agents wear the uniforms, as per the lawsuit.

The lawsuit also refers to an article in The Guardian on April 4th, 2019, quoting:

“On a private Facebook group used by over 2,000 flight attendants viewed by the Guardian, hundreds of flight attendants have complained of health problems as a result of wearing the new uniforms.”

The lawsuit, aimed at Lands’ End and not Delta Airlines, seeks in the region of $5 million dollars from Lands’ End for negligence according to Wisconsin Public Radio reporting. Delta Airlines is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit. An attorney for the two Delta Airlines employees has also reportedly said that bringing a case against Delta would be conducted through Worker’s Compensation. However, it’s not clear as to whether any such case is expected.

Delta new uniforms
Delta’s new uniforms. Photo: Delta

A spokesperson for Lands’ End has said the uniform manufacturer would not comment on pending litigation. Delta Airlines has also not commented for the Wisconsin Public Radio report.

The Guardian, on April 4th, cites a Delta spokesperson as saying:

“Since we began redesigning the uniform three years ago, we have been intentional to ensure employee input and transparency every step of the way. We want our employees to be able to safely wear the new garments with pride.”

Untreated uniforms available from June

Delta has also reportedly said that less than 1% of wearers of the new uniform reported issues. And, it is “working directly with employees on solutions that meet their individual needs.” The airline has also said an untreated uniform will be available from June.

Though not proven, according to The Guardian, doctors suspect “formaldehyde and Teflon chemical finishing, put on the uniforms to make them stain resistant and durable” may be to blame.

The Guardian also quotes a Lands’ End statement in its April reporting:

“We take each concern seriously and we work closely with Delta to attempt to find a solution that enables the employee to have a uniform that is both comfortable and functional.”

Other airlines have had complaints about new uniforms in the past, including Alaska Airlines, the uniforms were not made by Lands’ End.

An American Airlines Boeing 777-300.
An American Airlines Boeing 777-300. Image Source: American Airlines

Uniforms introduced by American Airlines in September 2016 reportedly met with complaints of allergic reactions from staff. This may have prompted American Airlines to change to its new supplier which will be Lands’ End. American Airlines is field testing the uniforms with a planned rollout commencing later in 2019.

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