Flight attendant sues over sexy outfit demand

A female flight attendant is suing US airlines JetBlue and Delta after being denied access to a flight because her outfit wasn't provocative enough.

Karin Keegan, a 37-year-old flight attendant with Delta, said a male JetBlue worker wouldn't let her on a flight in October 2007 because she wasn't dressed provocatively enough, then allowed other flight attendants with less seniority to board the plane.

JetBlue has an agreement with Delta to ferry its flight attendants to job assignments on a standby basis.

"Keegan changed into more provocative clothes, but (the employee) told her she was too late to board the plane and should have dressed like that before," said the lawsuit, which was filed Friday in Pittsburgh federal court, Associated Press reports.

"He wanted her to change to a lower-cut shirt and tighter pants, and wear more makeup before letting her on the plane," Keegan's attorney, Samuel Cordes, said Monday. Delta and JetBlue officials refused to intercede when she complained, the lawsuit said.

Cordes said Keegan is losing income, though he wouldn't specify how much, because she has stopped taking JetBlue flights to job assignments so she can avoid harassment by the male employee.

Keegan sued after complaining to the federal Equal Opportunity Employment Commission. The agency gave Keegan right-to-sue letters late last year.

Cordes said JetBlue told the commission it is not liable because Keegan is not an employee. But federal law enables employees to sue over workplace harassment even when they are not directly employed by the alleged harasser, Cordes said.

Similar suits are often filed by nurses against doctors when harassment occurs in a hospital, he said. Courts have found nurses can sue doctors for workplace harassment, even though the nurses are employed by the hospital, Cordes said.

It is not the first time JetBlue has hit controversy in recent times. Earlier this month, the airline was forced to pay a passenger US$240,000 (A$337,000) in compensation, after ordering the passenger to cover his shirt because it featured Arabic script.

In May last year, the airline was sued by a passenger who claimed he was forced give up his seat to a flight attendant and sit on the plane's toilet for three hours on a trip from San Diego to New York.