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#LeggingsGate: When Should Dress Codes Apply?

  • Kristina Evans
  • Mar 29, 2017 12:41PM

Over the weekend, United Airlines found themselves in the middle of a social media firestorm. A bystander set off an internet mob when she saw a United Airlines employee stop two teenage girls dressed in leggings from boarding a flight.

The problem is, most of the anger came before full details of the situation were revealed. It turns out that the girls were flying standby on their flight from Denver to Minneapolis using free passes for employees or family members. Individuals using those passes are considered airline representatives, United Air Lines spokesman Jonathan Guerin said, and as such, they are subjected to a dress code that prohibits sleepwear, torn clothing, swimwear and revealing attire. The airline’s dress code dictates that these passengers must be “well-groomed, neat, clean and in good taste.” It is noted that miniskirts, clothing that “reveals a midriff,” short shorts and “form-fitting lycra/spandex tops, pants and dresses”- such as leggings- are banned. Of course, when asked if the rules could be construed as sexist, Guerin replied, “Absolutely not. Male or female, those rules apply to every pass rider.”

United spent much of Sunday and Monday trying to quiet the indignant social media crowd after Shannon Watts, founder of gun safety group Moms Demand Action, posted on Twitter that United gate staff had stopped three girls from boarding the flight to Minneapolis because of their stretchy pants.

However, Watt’s main cause of outrage was a case of misunderstanding. She thought the third passenger, a 10-year-old girl, was forced to put a dress over her leggings in order to board.