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Flight Attendant Sues United Over Shoe-Related Disability Discrimination

Flight Attendant Sues United Over Shoe-Related Disability Discrimination
Joe Cortez

Employee claims discrimination over annual waiver over doctor-recommended footwear

A United Airlines flight attendant with over 30 years of experience is taking her employer to court, claiming their unreasonable requests over footwear are discriminatory. The Houston Chronicle reports the employee, Edie Hall, is accusing the carrier of being unreasonable over her provisions, alleging they are a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Hall began her career with Continental Airlines and transitioned to United after their merger. In 2004, she complained to her doctor about chronic foot pain, and the doctor prescribed footwear for her needs. However, the attendant claims they were not completely in line with the new United dress code and the carrier required her to jump through hoops to stay comfortable at work.

According to her attorney, her troubles began in 2013, when United adopted a new dress code that prevented flight attendants from wearing clogs while in airports. Although Hall claims she went through the airline’s disability protocol to use her prescribed shoes, her attorneys argued she still faced disciplinary action, including grounding her from service until she complied.

She took her case to the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission (EEO) that same year, while United gave her special permission to wear her shoes. According to her attorney, that permission was stopped on three different occasions, before the airline sent a letter claiming she no longer had to submit paperwork to wear her medical shoes. The EEO ultimately ruled in her favor, giving way to the lawsuit.

Hall is seeking unspecified damages from United over her accusations. In a statement to the newspaper, a spokesperson claimed there was “no legal basis” for the action.

View Comments (3)

3 Comments

  1. kb9522

    November 13, 2017 at 9:33 am

    What a ridiculous lawsuit… maybe she should have switched jobs after realizing she could no longer physically perform the one she had.

    This kind of nonsense is exactly why companies have to think about every little thing they say or do in a litigious manner… And the only people it hurts are the customers.

  2. onylon

    November 14, 2017 at 6:36 am

    Why did it take court action to get a small concession on this ladies uniform? Surely it comes under “reasonable adjustments” just like an employer providing wrist rests for office staff with RSI.

  3. CA1900

    November 14, 2017 at 12:31 pm

    kb9522, she can do her job just fine, just not in the specific shoes United wants. If she were missing an arm, that would be a bona fide occupational qualification and the airline would be within their rights not to employer her in that job. That isn’t the case here when a simple change of footwear allows her to continue in her job.

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