I think that Southwest, as a privately run business, does have the right to 'refuse service' to anyone as long as they are not part of a protected class (i.e. ADA, race, etc).... and setting limits on attire seems to be reasonably within that - many restaurants and nightclubs require 'proper dress' and this is widely accepted. However, as a matter of courtesy, some guidelines should be published if this practice is going to be continued. Any lawsuit or the like from either of the women involved is way over the top and I should think, legally groundless. The law and airline policies give broad authority (too much, in my opinion) to front-line staff, to enforce rules pretty much however they want. Having said all that, however, I think Southwest messed up big time here. The outfits worn by either of the two women, while on the skimpy side, would not be considered out of the ordinary on any college campus, public area, bar, or what have you. You can lament the sad state of fashion, if you like, but it's hard to argue their attire violated 'community standards'. It is particularly ironic that Southwest is involved in this as well, given some of the uniforms and promotions your own company featured in the 1970s. Come to think of it, a woman wearing your offical 1970s uniform would probably be kicked off one of your flights today! Finally, I think the company PR response has further hurt the situation. It's even started to look like a gender-bias issue because some women are arguing that a man would never be questioned about his outfit. I think the real reason for that is that men simply don't dress like that, but it looks bad nonetheless, and threatens to blow up in your face.
All-in-all, was southwest airlines legally entitled to confront these two women? Sure. Was it the best business decision on your part? I don't think so.
... View more