PITTSBURGH — A flight attendant is suing JetBlue Airways and Delta Air Lines, saying a male employee denied her a work-related flight because she wasn’t dressed provocatively enough.
The flight attendant, 37-year-old Karin Keegan of Pittsburgh, works for Delta. The airline has an agreement for JetBlue to ferry Delta flight attendants to job assignments on a standby basis.
Keegan’s lawsuit 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.
“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.
“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.
Media relations officials at Atlanta-based Delta did not answer the phone Monday. Bryan Baldwin, a spokesman for JetBlue of Forest Hills, N.Y., said the airline doesn’t comment on litigation.
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.