HOUSTON - A Houston doctor is speaking out after she was forced to cover up her outfit on an American Airlines flight last month.
In a tweet June 30, Dr. Tisha Rowe shared a photo of what she was wearing, which was a romper-style outfit.
Rowe said she was almost to her seat on the Miami-bound flight when she was asked by flight attendants to step off the plane. Rowe said they then confronted her about what she was wearing, though they never specifically said what was wrong with the outfit.
'You're not getting on here like that'
"She just said, 'You're not getting on here like that.' I knew exactly how it looked from the front and the back. I was comfortable, and so I stood up for myself, but I was powerless at that moment," Rowe said.
Rowe, who is black, said the flight attendants, two black women and one black man, told her the captain of the plane, a white man, had approved her being barred from the plane unless she covered up.
Rowe said the flight attendants essentially shamed her for how her curvy body looked in the popular summer outfit.
"I said, 'If I was a white woman, you would not have pulled me off this plane,' and she said, 'This is not discrimination,' and I said, 'Absolutely it is,'" Rowe said.
Forced to cover up
Rowe said they made it clear she would not be allowed back on board unless she covered her outfit, so she asked for a blanket to wrap around her body and was allowed to return to her seat.
Rowe said she was humiliated, and what made it worse was that her 8-year-old son had to witness it.
"It was just frozen silent watching this encounter, and then when we got on the plane, it was tears," she said.
In a statement, American Airlines said: "We were concerned about Dr. Rowe's comments, and reached out to her and our team at the Kingston airport to gather more information about what occurred. We apologize to Dr. Rowe and her son for their experience and have fully refunded their travel. We are proud to serve customers of all backgrounds and are committed to providing a positive, safe travel experience for everyone who flies with us."
The American Airlines dress code, found in the "contract of carriage," offers few specifics, saying only that passengers should "dress appropriately" and that "bare feet or offensive clothing aren't allowed."
Apology is not enough
Rowe said the apology is a good first step, but it's not enough.
"You need better training. You need more objective measures, and you need to define this dress code in a way that does not inherently create an opportunity for bias and harassment because you have left it too vague," she said.
Rowe and her attorney said they are waiting for American Airlines to step up and seriously address the situation and make it right.
"The statement they issued was empty. Faith without works is dead. What have they done? What changes are they going to make? They are simply not in a place where they have accepted that they have a problem, and if necessary, we'll take them to court and teach them that they do," lawyer Geoffrey Berg said.
When asked if any of the employees involved would face disciplinary action, a spokesperson for American Airlines said the company does not comment on personnel matters.
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