Just yesterday, a gate agent for United Airlines prevented two teenage girls from boarding their plane to Minneapolis simply because they were wearing leggings. The gate agent claimed their clothing was inappropriate, and also forced a young girl in leggings to change into a dress before boarding. Apparently, an eyewitness said the gate agent told the girls in leggings: “I don’t make the rules, I just enforce them.” The result has been a Twitter battle between United and thousands of upset people. While critics of the gate agent’s decision have contended that what happened was intrusive and sexist, United has maintained that what the gate agent did was in accordance with their policy. Apparently, the girls wearing leggings were traveling as “pass travelers”, taking advantage of a United employee benefit that lets United employees and their dependents to travel for free on standby flights. However, the policy also states that “pass travelers” represent United as a company, and as such, are not permitted to wear clothes deemed as inappropriate, such as spandex leggings, ripped or tattered jeans, flip flops, and anything else that shows their undergarments. United also confirmed its right to deny service to any pass travelers deemed inappropriately dressed, as stated in the company policy.

Is United right to deny service to any pass travelers who don’t meet their dress code requirements? Should they even have a dress code policy in the first place? Obviously, I recognize that many companies enforce dress codes because they want their employees looking professional as they represent the company. But what about employees’ dependents who travel with them?

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