Washington Supreme Court Hears Airplane Meal Workers Case

By Austin Jenkins

Washington’s Supreme Court will decide whether employers must accommodate the religious practices of their employees. The high court heard oral arguments Tuesday in a case involving four employees of an airline catering company.

The four men who brought the lawsuit worked for Gate Gourmet making in-flight meals. No outside food was allowed on the premises, so the employees were provided lunch by the company. The lawsuit alleges the options did not accommodate the religious-based dietary restrictions of the employees. 

Attorney Aaron Rocke represents the four men who brought the suit. He told the high court that Washington’s anti-discrimination law should obligate employers to make reasonable religious accommodations. In this case, Rocke says, Gate Gourmet was already making meals to accommodate airline passengers.

Aaron Rocke: “They make halal, vegetarian, gluten-free meals, they respect the dietary preferences of airline passengers in a way they don’t afford to their own employees.”

The attorney for Gate Gourmet countered that – as currently written - Washington’s anti-discrimination does not require employers to make religious accommodations.

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