1973 November 12

Airline Stewardesses Win Sweeping Discrimination Suit


In the case of Laffey v. Northwest, decided on this day, stewardesses employed by Northwest Airlines won a sweeping ruling regarding sex discrimination over issues related to unequal pay, the lack of promotions, unequal benefits compared to male employees, and weight monitoring for stewardesses. The job of stewardess was a separate all-female job category, and women were forced to retire in their early 30s, not allowed to be married, and subject to monitoring of their weight.

Stewardesses began challenging these restrictions in the 1960s; and by the late 1970s, the separate job category of “stewardess” had been replaced by the unisex job category of “flight attendant.” See, for example, April 17, 1963, February 26, 1965, and March 10, 1973.

The old days: A 1936 article described stewardesses as “The girls who qualify for hostesses must be petite; weight 100 to 118 pounds; height 5 feet to 5 feet 4 inches; age 20 to 26 years. Add to that the rigid physical examination each must undergo four times every year, and you are assured of the bloom that goes with perfect health.”

Read about the history of stewardesses: Kathleen Barry, Femininity in Flight: A History of Flight Attendants (2007)

Visit Femininity in Flight web site: http://femininityinflight.com/activism.html

Find a Day

Abortion Rights ACLU african-americans Alice Paul anti-communism Anti-Communist Hysteria Birth Control Brown v. Board of Education Censorship CIA Civil Rights Civil Rights Act of 1964 Cold War Espionage Act FBI First Amendment Fourteenth Amendment freedom of speech Free Speech Gay Rights Hate Speech homosexuality Hoover, J. Edgar HUAC Japanese American Internment King, Dr. Martin Luther Ku Klux Klan Labor Unions Lesbian and Gay Rights Loyalty Oaths McCarthy, Sen. Joe New York Times Obscenity Police Misconduct Same-Sex Marriage Separation of Church and State Sex Discrimination Smith Act Spying Spying on Americans Vietnam War Voting Rights Voting Rights Act of 1965 War on Terror Watergate White House Women's Rights Women's Suffrage World War I World War II Relocation Camps


Tell Us What You Think

We want to hear your comments, criticisms and suggestions!