An amended lawsuit against American Airlines was unsealed Tuesday in federal court in Chicago alleging that the airline’s new uniforms caused adverse reactions in employees.
According to the Chicago Business Journal, the suit claims airline officials had evidence that the uniforms might be toxic and unsafe to wear prior to introducing them in September 2016.
Despite this information “American has knowingly tried to cover up the dangers posed by the toxic Twin Hill uniforms,” the lawsuit states.
More than 70,000 workers were exposed to the new uniforms including flight attendants, pilots, and gate agents.
Designed to be chic, many employees complained of itching, rashes, headaches, and hives after donning the new clothing, which marked the airline’s first uniform makeover in three decades.
After an initial internal investigation, American determined that the incidents were not related and that the reactions being reported were likely tied to wool allergies.
However, a few months later, workers raised new complaints. Then in December 2016, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) released an official statement revealing that it had “received over 1,600 flight attendant reports of suspected uniform reactions that include headaches, rashes, hives, burning skin and eye irritation, itching and respiratory problems – to name a few.”
In response to the flood of complaints, APFA asked that the uniforms be recalled and further testing conducted. American Airlines responded to the request by noting that the clothing had already been put through three rounds of testing. The spokesman also said the uniforms were “in line with normal standards.”
The uniforms are manufactured by Twin Hills. Both American Airlines and Twin Hills were named in an original suit.
The Chicago Business Journal, however, reported that a judge did not find sufficient reason in the original complaint to find American Airlines at fault for the uniform issues.
There was sufficient evidence though, to proceed with a case against Twin Hill. The plaintiffs’ attorneys were also given the chance to amend the suit, which was resubmitted Oct. 4.
The new filing that was unsealed this week contains extensive evidence presented by plaintiffs’ lawyers. The allegations include that the most senior members of American Airlines’ management knew that testing of the uniforms by Twin Hill did not prove the uniforms were safe.
The court documents go on to contend that American Airlines’ officials overseeing the uniform rollout were given evidence that the uniforms could be toxic because of various chemicals in the fabric, The Chicago Business Journal reported.
Instead of taking any action in response to the information about the chemicals in the uniforms, American Airlines management chose to ignore the warning signs, the filing claims.
American Airlines issued a statement regarding the amended suit on Tuesday.
“This lawsuit has already been dismissed once, and we are confident that the facts will again result in a second dismissal. The amended complaint has been written in a sensationalized manner that does a disservice to American’s commitment to its team members, and to their continued health and safety,” a spokesperson for American Airlines said in a statement to the Chicago Business Journal.
The lawsuit seeks to have the uniforms removed from the workplace. Plaintiffs are also seeking individually to be awarded damages.
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