ATLANTA — Delta Airlines said it will be releasing new "untreated uniforms" this month for employees who have "exhausted" all the alternatives.
Some employees have been allowed to wear their black and white uniform instead of the standard uniform, with a doctor's note.
But a Delta flight attendant told Channel 2 Action News that she tried other options and is still being forced to wear a uniform that makes her sick.
The company rolled out the new plum collection about a year ago. Since then, more than 2,400 Delta employees have joined a secret Facebook group to share their stories and pictures of how they say the uniform is affecting their health.
"My biggest fear -- what is the long-term health effect? What's going to happen to all of us? Are we all going to have an auto immune disease?" the flight attendant said, asking not to be identified. "The coughing, the burning inside the nose, then there were just nose bleeds, like chronic nose bleeds."
Pictures shared with Channel 2 Action News show an array of skin reactions and undergarments and other items that have turned purple from the bleeding dye.
"The company is referring to them as rashes when we've been told that they are chemical burns redness, itchy skin inflammation, stinging and a burning sensation feeling like my skin feels on fire,” the flight attendant said.
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The woman says Delta won’t let her wear a different uniform.
"I had begged and begged and I continue to beg into this black and white uniform option,” the flight attendant said.
Delta said that, although Delta and Lands' End (the manufacturer) “conducted in-depth testing during every step of development, a small number of employees have reported skin irritations."
The company said the uniform has impacted less than 1% of 64,000 employees.
Delta said it is working to provide alternate uniform pieces to solve the issue but that medical documentation is critical to finding the best solution.
Delta said some employees have declined to provide it.
"Really it’s the surprise of how Delta's handling it,” Jonathan Johnston said.
Johnston is a workers compensation attorney. He's helping three Delta flight attendants with their claims and has been contacted by about dozen others.
“One client is being forced to wear a uniform that the Delta doctor has determined is toxic to her,” Johnston said.
He said his clients have doctors’ notes and at least one doctor suggested that it may be formaldehyde and other chemicals in the uniform.
“They're treating each person as if that's your problem. That’s not ours, like, it’s just this giant coincidence that there are thousands of women and some men around the country who are having this problem all at the exact same time,” Johnston said.
Lands' End is not commenting on the issue because two flight attendants have filed a lawsuit against them.
Delta sent Channel 2 Action News the following statement:
"Safety comes first in everything we do and the uniform program was no exception. Since we began redesigning the uniform three years ago, we have been intentional to ensure employee input and transparency every step of the way. We want our employees to be able to safely wear the new garments with pride. To reinforce this commitment, Delta actively sought out employee input, and conducted wear testing, allergen testing and dye testing. Although Delta and Lands’ End conducted in-depth testing during every step of development, a small number of employees have reported skin irritations. While less than one percent of employees in the new uniform program have reported issues, Delta takes this very seriously and is working directly with employees on solutions that meet their individual needs."
Cox Media Group