Suing Southwest

Hi All,

Wow — I'm buried under your e-mails about the woman who's suing Southwest Airlines. More on that in a moment… first, though, some things we're working on for Tuesday's “DaySide:”

We'll stay on top of the Amber Alert for Lisa Underwood and her 7-year-old boy in Texas. Also, Tuesday is the day Matt Maupin's (search) Army Reserve unit is due to return home to Ohio from service in Iraq. Matt is the only American soldier still listed as missing over there; so the homecoming for his unit and his hometown is bittersweet. (I grew up in a town that's virtually next door to Matt's.) While we all hold out hope for Matt (he was taken in that ambush last April in which Thomas Hamill (search) was also captured), there is something else going on in his unit, the 724th Transportation Company. I'll tell you what it is Tuesday.

Also, there's a rather unusual lawsuit underway in San Francisco: two female former employees of the Gorilla Foundation (search) are suing the Foundation, alleging that they were ordered to bond with one of the gorillas by showing their breasts. When they refused, they say they were terminated. (They also allege they were fired for reporting unsanitary conditions to state authorities.)

Now, this gorilla, Koko, is female — but it's said she has a fixation with nipples. The employees, Nancy Alperin (search) and Kendra Keller (search), allege that their boss (also a woman) warned them that their jobs would suffer if they "did not indulge Koko's nipple fetish." Apparently this happened outside where other workers could possibly seem them exposing themselves. What do you think? Do Alperin and Keller have a case? E-mail me at:

Also, the brouhaha at Harvard (search) is growing. The university's president, Larry Summers (search), is about to go into a standing-room-only faculty meeting, with many tempers flaring over something he said several days ago. When asked about the lack of women in positions of authority in Harvard's engineering and science departments, he suggested that more married men than married women were willing to work 80-hour weeks to attain high-powered jobs. But then he suggest bias alone was not to blame; he said that, "in the special case of science and engineering, there are issues of intrinsic aptitude." As you might imagine, many profs hit the roof. So did many alums and Harvard board members. Some are calling for Summers' head on a platter, and others are circulating petitions of support. What do you think about what he said?

On the lighter side, the American International Toy Fair (search) is coming to New York City, where companies unveil their newest and coolest toys. We've rounded up several of the best and will have them in the studio.

Now on to that lawsuit by Nadine Thompson against Southwest Airlines (search), for telling her to buy a second ticket (apparently because she weighs 280 lbs.). This clearly touched a nerve, as many of you say you've been that person stuck next to someone obese who was spilling over into your space.

I have been squeezed between two 300+ pound men on a flight from Dallas to Detroit. The last one to sit down made an effort to raise the armrest between us and later asked if he could eat my sandwich! They have no right to expect me to sacrifice my comfort and peace of mind for them. —Dave, Detroit, Michigan

Some of you wrote in saying Southwest blew it on this one. As for other airlines...

The airlines say it is out of consideration to the people sitting next to you [when they charge you for another seat]... They are doing it for their OWN profit... They squash people in so they can make more money. If they charge fat people extra, they better start charging people with annoying kids... Or what about someone with a cough or sniffles? How many seats should they have to pay for so as not to bother the ones packed in beside them?
— Anonymous

A few of you suggested that Nadine could have solved things by buying a first-class ticket, where the seats are bigger (and may cost less than two coach seats). Or, how about another idea…

I think the airlines should just have a section of slightly larger seats, kind of like a "coach upgrade"...
— Jeff Beck, Las Vegas, Nevada

Finally, here's a blunt one from someone who openly declares he is obese:

XXXL myself and I know I make some folks that sit next to me uncomfortable. I always try to get a window seat so no one has to climb over me... Going onto an aircraft and making a scene does neither party any good. While I would feel the same as [Nadine], if I knew of the policy I would just find another airline that was more accomodating...
— Chuck Bush

We'll keep you posted on Nadine's lawsuit.

See you on the air,


Watch "DaySide with Linda Vester" weekdays at 1 p.m. ET

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