Over 500 Delta Air Lines employees have filed a lawsuit against Lands’ End, claiming that the uniforms from the clothing manufacturer made them ill.
According to the lawsuit, Delta employees have been required to wear these uniforms since May 2018. Since then, multiple employees reported that they suffered severe respiratory illnesses, boils, hair loss, headaches, fatigue and other health issues.
“This issue is real. It affects different people in different ways, and the reactions can vary in severity with symptoms such as rashes, headaches, hair loss and breathing problems when wearing the uniform to becoming so sensitized to the chemicals that it’s impossible to even be in the same space without getting extremely sick,” said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA.
The uniforms include dresses, shirts, skirts, blouses, sweaters, jackets and pants and thee materials are “high stretch, wrinkle and stain-resistant, waterproof, anti-static and deodorizing.”
The plaintiffs allege that chemical additives and finishes are causing allergic reactions.
“These uniforms are very hazardous to the affected workers,” Bruce Maxwell, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs, said. “Unfortunately, once exposed to a certain degree, these workers are sensitized to the particular heavy metals and/or chemicals involved and become proximity reactors which basically means that merely being in close to the offending uniform will cause a set off of the adverse reactions, the various symptoms listed in the complaint.”
Delta said that it’s dedicated to keeping employees safe.
“Our top priority continues to be the safety of our employees, which is why we invested in a rigorous toxicology study to determine if there was a universal scientific issue with the uniform. The results of the study confirm our uniforms meet the highest textile standards – OEKO-TEX – with the exception of the optional flight attendant apron, which we removed from the collection.”
The complaints from Delta employees prompted the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health to issue a health hazard evaluation report in June recommending that the airline offer alternatives.
“It is possible that textile chemicals in the uniforms or the physical irritant properties of the uniform fabrics have caused skin symptoms among Delta employees,” the NIOSH report said.
The lawsuit seeks damages for personal injuries, pain and suffering, emotional distress and economic losses. It also asks for Lands’ End to recall the uniforms.