Thursday, September 06, 2007

Southwest's Dress Code

Southwest generally has an excellent reputation not only with frequent flyers, but as an employer. My cousin works for them and seems to be in love with the company. Last summer, I had a long talk in Austin with the spouse of a Southwest pilot about how much she loved Southwest too. So I'm a little surprised to relate this story of discrimination and harassment.

Southwest tends to empower their employees and not honor the "customer is always right" rule, which I don't have a problem with. The customer can certainly be wrong. However, I do wonder what exactly was going on with flight attendant "Keith" the day when he asked Kyla Ebbert to change clothes or leave the plane. She wore what seem to be totally ordinary clothes including a short skirt, tank top, and sweater. Not that this is any of my business. I don't feel especially lewd when viewing her clothes. Wait, wait,

The experience sounds humiliating for Ebbert, who was forced first to leave the plane, and then allowed on if she pulled her skirt down and tank top up. Some have argued that her clothes simply reflect current fashions, which tend toward raciness. However, the irony, which Feministing points out, is that Southwest required its female flight attendants to wear hot pants just as short as Ebbert in the 1970s.

It's not that I object to Southwest having a dress code for flyers, though I think publicizing it is a good idea, but Ebbert doesn't seem to violate current standards (or past) of appropriate attire.

What's going on Southwest?