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May 17, 2024May 17, 2024

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Delta Airlines’ allegedly “toxic” uniforms caused one former flight attendant to develop cancer, she claims in a new federal lawsuit.

Summer Owens, 43, alleges the uniforms she was forced to wear for over two years starting in June 2018 progressively made her more and more sick.

Her symptoms started with itching, burning and swelling on her skin, plus a rash on her behind, burning eyes, a runny nose and shortness of breath, according to a Brooklyn federal suit from Monday.

Then by almost a year later, Owens – a JFK Airport based-employee – had symptoms including “fluid-filled blisters on her legs,” extreme fatigue, numbness in her fingers and toes, night sweats, fever, headaches, swelling and trouble sleeping, the filing alleges.

Hundreds of Delta workers filed a class-action federal lawsuit against Wisconsin-based Lands’ End in the Badger State in 2020 claiming the uniforms designed by the company were “toxic” and caused skin and breathing issues.

That case is still pending with 225 plaintiffs with claims remaining against the company.

Owens, a single mom who lives in Pensacola, Florida, is suing the airline for allegedly wrongfully firing her for the sick time and medical leave she was forced to take after she was repeatedly made ill from wearing the uniforms.

“I feel betrayed,” Owens told The Post on Monday. “I loved Delta. I was planning on retiring from Delta.”

Owens was required to wear the Lands’ End-designed purple uniform – which consisted of pieces including the “signature” Delta v-neck dress, an apron, a sweater, a scarf and raincoat – between 14 to 24 hours a day for 16 to 22 days per month, her suit claims.

“Immediately upon wearing the purple uniform’s apron, Plaintiff noticed that the apron turned the skin on the back of her neck purple and resulted in severe itching, redness, swelling and burning,” the filing claims.

These symptoms only got worse, the suit claims.

Owens was eventually allowed to wear a different black and white uniform, which employees could buy for themselves with permission, starting in October 2020, but she still had symptoms when she was around other workers wearing the purple outfit, the filing claims.

Then the airline started pressuring her to wear a grey uniform which she began doing on Jan. 2, 2022, the suit alleges.

This new grey duds, also designed by Lands’ End, according to Owens, caused her symptoms to flare-up “ten-fold,” with her skin peeling off of her neck and face and caused nausea, diarrhea and vomiting, the filing claims.

“The dramatic worsening of [Owens’] symptoms while wearing the grey uniform caused her to call out sick more often than previously,” the court documents allege.

Owens was fired on June 8, 2022 for “reliability” issues – given all of the sick time and medical leave she was forced to take due to her medical issues allegedly caused by the uniforms, she claims.

“It’s done a lot of damage to my personal life, my finances, my health,” Owens said. “And still I’m losing things every day.”

“If [Owens] took a day off as a sick or personal day, the absence was at times counted negatively against her in her employee file,” the suit charges.

Owens was so scared to be fired that she withdrew a request for accommodation to allow her to wear the black and white uniform again and continued wearing the grey one, the suit claims.

“She felt scared and ‘awful,'” the filing alleges. “She knew that the grey uniform was making her sick, but [she] did not think she had a choice not to wear it.”

Owens – who told Delta that she was planning a worker’s compensation claim – says the airline retaliated against her because of her accommodation “and because she sounded bells of alarm that defendant Delta’s uniforms were dangerous for human health,” the suit claims.

Just a few months later on Oct. 21, 2022, Owens was diagnosed with Mycosis Fungoides – a type of T Cell Lymphoma cancer – which her doctor believes “was related to defendant Delta’s uniforms,” the suit alleges.

Owens told The Post that her cancer first presents as a rash and noted it’s chronic and “will never go away,” though it can go into remission. She now has to undergo light chemo treatments twice a week – which gives her high doses of UVA and UVB rays, she said.

“People need to know what they have done their employees,” Owens said. “They have destroyed a lot of lives here. They need to be held accountable for that.”

Owens’ lawyer Natasha Moskvina told The Post her client “was sickened by the Delta uniform.”

“She reported the dangers to her supervisor as a whistleblower,” Moskvina said. “She took some time off to get better. And then she was fired for it.”

Moskvina said they are also exploring the possibility of bringing a personal injury lawsuit against the airline.

“While we have not yet been notified of any civil lawsuit, Delta has taken and continues to take extensive measures to ensure employee uniforms are made from high quality material and have been tested to ensure they are safe for our employees to wear,” a spokesperson for Delta said. “Delta also provides its employees with an extremely generous leave of absence program, healthcare benefits, and other wellbeing resources.”

On Jan. 2, 2020, hundreds of Delta Airline employees sued Lands End over the “toxic” uniforms that caused them symptoms including hair loss, migraines, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, anaphylactic-type symptoms and auto-immune conditions.

Delta employees were required to start wearing the allegedly problematic uniforms on May 29, 2018 and were worn by about 64,000 workers — including 24,000 flight attendants, according to the Wisconsin suit.

A Delta spokesperson in 2020 said that the airline removed the “optional” apron from the uniform but the rest of the clothes were up-to-code.

Alaskan Airlines and American Airlines had similar issues with their uniforms which were also made by Lands’ End.

In June 2018, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health issued a health hazard evaluation report recommending that the airline offer alternatives clothing options.