Sky Talk

American flight attendants file lawsuit, want full recall of ‘unsafe uniforms’

Two American Airlines flight attendants have sued uniform maker Twin Hill, asking a court to order a full recall of the uniforms they say have caused serious allergic reactions.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Chicago, requests class action status, saying that 4,000 flight attendants and pilots at American have had health issues since the uniforms debuted last September.

Flight attendants Thor Zurbriggen and Dena Catan, who filed the suit, say they both have experienced rashes, headaches and respiratory issues related to the new uniforms.

“These uniforms, manufactured by defendant Twin Hill, pose an unreasonable risk of physical harm including current and future serious health problems to those who wear them and to those who are near to or work in the close quarters of an airplane with those who are wearing the uniforms,” the filing said.

The suit asks for class action status and for Twin Hill to pay for medical monitoring of employees. It also asks for a full recall of the uniforms still being worn by American employees.

Twin Hill, which made more than 1.8 million new uniforms for American to distribute to its pilots, flight attendants and gate agents, said their garments are safe to wear and fabric testing has shown that the garments do not include restricted chemicals.

“Nothing in the complaint filed by two American Airlines flight attendants changes the fact that there is absolutely no evidence linking any of the symptoms alleged to our uniforms,” Twin Hill spokesman Diego Louro said. “We continue to believe that any lawsuit filed on the basis of the safety of the American uniforms is without merit, and we intend to contest this action vigorously.”

Twin Hill was previously sued by flight attendants at Alaska Airlines who alleged that Twin Hill uniforms caused allergic reactions. Last year, a court ruled in Twin Hill’s favor that the Alaska uniforms did not cause the symptoms.

American spokeswoman Lakesha Brown said the carrier has not seen the filing.

“Safety has been and remains our No. 1 priority, and we would never ask our team members to wear an unsafe uniform,” Brown said. “We have provided several alternatives for anyone who is concerned with wearing the current uniform, and we are working with individuals who have concerns on a case-by-case basis.”

In June, the carrier announced it would be switching uniform vendors when Twin Hill’s contract expires in 2020. It will take the company two to three years to find a new vendor, choose new fabrics and conduct wear tests with employees.

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk