Delta adds gray uniforms after complaints about purple garments

Some Delta Air Lines employees are wearing new gray uniforms after opting out of designer purple garb the carrier unveiled a few years ago that allegedly prompted allergic reactions and worker lawsuits.

Atlanta-based Delta has allowed employees to opt out of the purple women’s uniforms for the past few years and wear black and white garments instead. But starting Monday the airline is requiring all employees to wear the official Delta gray or purple outfits.

The airline said its new gray uniforms have received a textile industry certification known as OEKO-TEX and are certified to be free from harmful substances. Employees with approved medical conditions can apply for a special accommodation.

“Only a small number have made this request,” according to Delta.

Credit: Source: Delta Air Lines

Credit: Source: Delta Air Lines

Delta first rolled out the purple uniforms for flight attendants and airport customer service workers as part of a Zac Posen uniform collection unveiled in 2018. By May 2019, some flight attendants had filed suit alleging that wearing their uniforms caused skin rashes, headaches, fatigue and other issues.

In January 2020, Delta said it would redesign its uniforms after the complaints and lawsuits. By that time, thousands of employees were wearing their own black and white clothing instead of the uniforms.

“It’s just too many. We’ve got to be a unified force,” said Delta’s director of uniforms Ekrem Dimbiloglu at the time.

Not everyone is happy about the new strict enforcement of the uniform requirement.

The Association of Flight Attendants union, which has sought to organize Delta flight attendants for years, has been testing Delta uniforms for chemicals. The union said a small number of flight attendants have adverse reactions to the new gray uniforms as well, and raised concerns that some crew members could be grounded and not fly during the busy summer season.

The union has started a petition to tell Delta to continue allowing workers to wear alternative uniforms without penalty.