Update on Prop 65 Lawsuit: Contaminated Uniforms at Envoy, Piedmont, PSA, and AA

Update on Prop 65 Lawsuit: Contaminated Uniforms at Envoy, Piedmont, PSA, and AA

April 19, 2019 — Last year AFA together with one our members filed a lawsuit against the uniform manufacturers Twill Hill and Aramark, and American Airlines.

The Proposition 65 (Prop 65) lawsuit was filed on June 29, 2018, in Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland, California. The case names uniform suppliers TwinHill and Aramark, their suppliers Tailored Brands and PVH, and American Airlines (AA) as defendants This amended complaint was filed on February 23, 2019, and can be downloaded view here. The wholly-owned regionals are not explicitly named because AA makes the uniform decisions for regional Flight Attendants, but AFA Flight Attendants at PSA, Piedmont, and Envoy will still be affected by the outcome of this case because you wear the same uniforms.

Currently, the lawsuit is in the discovery phase.

Proposition 65 is the “Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986,” a state law that requires a warning be provided to Californians before they are exposed to any of a number of chemicals identified as carcinogens or reproductive toxins. The law provides this warning so that Californians can make an educated decision as to whether or not to avoid that exposure. One carcinogen included in Prop 65 is formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is added to fabrics to reduce wrinkling/creasing, as a flame retardant, and to increase stain resistances and colorfastness in fabric. It can also be used in resins that attach interfacing fabric to suiting or shirt fabrics, such as in the cuffs, collar, and button bands. Formaldehyde has a distinctive smell and, in addition to being a carcinogen, it is an irritant and an allergen that can cause skin, eye, and respiratory symptoms.

Uniform garment testing ordered by AFA, American, and Twin Hill revealed formaldehyde in some the shirts (TwinHill and Aramark) and suiting garments (TwinHill) from mainline and regional Flight Attendant uniforms. The levels of formaldehyde we found should trigger the requirement to warn people under California’s Proposition 65 law. Specifically, under California law, the garments should have had a warning label Because no warning was provided, we had to spend months testing products and conferring with experts to ultimately bring our lawsuit.

If you are experiencing issues with either the TwinHill or Aramark garments, document your reaction with your airline, report to AFA, seek medical attention, and wear approved alternative garments. For more information, visit our uniforms page (http://www.afacwa.org/uniforms). More questions? Reach out to AFA by email (uniforms@afacwa.org).

Twin Hill and Aramark and their suppliers, with the endorsement of American Airlines, sell these garments to new American, PSA, Piedmont, and Envoy Flight Attendants, including those who live in California. Flight Attendants at mainline and regional are required to buy these uniforms and wear them as a term of their employment. Even if you get permission to wear an alternative uniform garment, you must work around others who continue to wear the formaldehyde-treated garments. Formaldehyde can be released from the fabrics, especially when the treated fabrics are warmed up, whether due to high temperatures in the cabin during ground operations, or by your body heat when loading and pushing a heavy beverage cart, for example.

The primary goal of this lawsuit is to force either a recall of the formaldehyde-treated uniforms, or have American Airlines and its suppliers provide a warning as required by California law. If the garments had a warning label, we would know which pieces expose you and your flying partners to carcinogens and reproductive toxins. This would allow us to negotiate protections to ensure you wouldn’t be forced to wear or work around those garments.

Stay tuned for more updates. And if you are experiencing issues with either the TwinHill or Aramark garments, document your reaction with your airline, report to AFA, seek medical attention, and wear approved alternative garments. For more information, visit our uniforms page (afacwa.org/uniforms). More questions? Reach out to AFA by email (uniforms@afacwa.org).

afacwa.org/uniforms

uniforms@afacwa.org

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