Over 500 employees at Delta Air Lines — most of whom are flight attendants — have sued clothing company Lands' End over uniforms that allegedly made them sick, CNN reports.
Filed in federal court in Wisconsin, the suit claims that the uniforms have caused several workers to experience breathing issues, vocal cord dysfunction, blurred vision, nosebleeds, skin blisters and rashes, among other symptoms. It alleges that the outfits "pose an ongoing, unreasonable risks of physical harm... including threatening the [employees] with future serious health problems because of an allergic and/or sensitization response."
Bruce Maxwell, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs, told CNN that his office has received complaints from an additional 500 Delta employees. He noted that a Facebook group created to address concerns over the uniforms has grown to more than 6,000 members.
"This is affecting a lot of people," he said.
The uniforms reportedly debuted in 2016, but Delta employees only started wearing them two years ago. In a statement last Thursday, Delta said it still believes the uniforms are safe to wear.
"Our top priority continues to be the safety of our employees, which is why we invested in a rigorous toxicology study to determine if there was a universal scientific issue with the uniform," the airline said. "The results of the study confirm our uniforms meet the highest textile standards ... with the exception of the optional flight attendant apron, which we removed from the collection."
Yet, in their lawsuit, the plaintiffs said they also conducted their own test and discovered the presence of "chemicals and heavy metals far in excess of industry accepted safe levels for garments." Those chemicals reportedly include mercury, chromium, ormaldehyde, antimony, fluorine and bromine.
Delta was not named as a defendant in the suit because labor law does not allow employees to sue their employers over workplace-related injuries or deaths, according to CNN.
"This issue is real," Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, told NBC News. "It affects different people in different ways, and the reactions can vary in severity with symptoms such as rashes, headaches, hair loss and breathing problems when wearing the uniform to becoming so sensitized to the chemicals that it's impossible to even be in the same space without getting extremely sick."
Lands' End told both CNN and NBC News that it does not comment on pending litigation.