Airlines’ turbulent relations with flight crew

Aeroflot said in April it is reasonable for female flight attendants to face financial penalties if they are deemed to be overweight. (Aeroflot)
Updated 10 November 2017
0

Airlines’ turbulent relations with flight crew

Aeroflot came under fire for weight discrimination in April this year when airline representatives at a press conference said that it was reasonable for female flight attendants to face financial penalties if they were overweight. This was after two flight attendants took the airline to court, part of a group of women who jokingly named themselves STS — an abbreviation of “old, fat and ugly” in Russian. They said Aeroflot moved them from prestigious long-haul flights to lower-paid domestic routes because of their physical appearance, The Guardian reported. Evgenia Magurina, one of the complainants, claimed that Aeroflot flight attendants were photographed, measured and in some cases weighed. Women who did not meet the requirements were withdrawn from international routes.

Malaysia Airlines was accused in September this year of sacking cabin crew for being overweight. The Far Eastern carrier was accused of ageism and body-shape discrimination after it was revealed that five of its employees — all over the age of 50 — had their contracts terminated. The flight attendants — three men and two women — have worked for the airline for more than 20 years, but were told their services were no longer required, according to the National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (NUFAM). “This is a classic case of discrimination which needs to be stopped,” NUFAM president Ismail Nasaruddin told Kuala Lumpur newspaper The New Straits Times.

Air India was criticized in 2015 for firing 130 cabin crew for being overweight, claiming it was sacking them over “safety concerns.” In 2006, Air India also grounded nine female flight attendants deemed to be “exceptionally overweight.” The airline said that “being grossly overweight does have a bearing on reflexes and can impair agility required to perform the emergency functions.” The attendants sued, but a Delhi court backed up the carrier in 2008. The women appealed, only for the airline to fire them in 2009 as the country’s Supreme Court was still considering the case, The Washington Post ­reported.

In 2009, the union representing flight attendants working for Delta Air Lines in America cried foul over Delta’s failure to offer bigger sizes for its signature red dress uniform. The red dress was only available up to size 18, though a Delta spokeswoman said that the airline had a range of outfits in other colors and styles up to size 28 that flight attendants could wear, according to the Associated Press. A union representative said: “I think red is an eye-popping color and it’s not subtle, and to me by not offering it in a size over 18, Delta is saying, ‘We don’t want you wearing that if you are over size 18’ ... But the job isn’t about being sexy. It’s about safety.”


Barclays chief Staley survives whistleblowing inquiry with fines

Updated 20 April 2018
0

Barclays chief Staley survives whistleblowing inquiry with fines

  • Case marks first test of Britain's "senior managers regime"
  • Decision not to dismiss Staley comes as relief for shareholders

Barclays said Jes Staley will be fined by British regulators for attempting to unmask a whistleblower, but will be able to keep his job as the bank’s chief executive.
The country’s banking watchdogs concluded Staley’s attempt to find out who wrote a letter raising “concerns of a personal nature” about an unnamed senior employee represented a breach of individual conduct, Barclays said on Friday.
Staley’s case is the first big test of Britain’s “senior managers regime” (SMR), aimed at making top banking officials personally accountable for their actions after few were punished for their roles in bank collapses during the financial crisis.
If Staley accepts the findings of the regulators, it would be the first time that a sitting chief executive of a major bank in Britain has been fined by its regulators. A bank spokesman said the size of the fine had yet to be determined.
Barclays said the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) were “not alleging that he (Staley) acted with a lack of integrity or that he lacks fitness and propriety to continue to perform his role as Group Chief Executive Officer.”
News of the FCA and PRA fines follows a more than year-long probe in Britain that had led to speculation among some investors and bank insiders that Staley could have been forced to step down if deemed unfit to continue by those authorities.
Barclays also said that the FCA and PRA will not take enforcement action against the bank, while authorities in the United States are still investigating the case.
“Staley will live on to fight another day – which we welcome as a positive development for the bank and a relief for shareholders,” John Cronin at Irish broker Goodbody said.
“He’s been delivering on the strategy far more effectively than his predecessor had and therefore absent any sort of genuine malpractice we’re pretty keen for him to crack on,” one of the bank’s top 40 investors said.
The British bank, which in April last year said it had reprimanded Staley and would cut his bonus for his attempts to identify the whistleblower, will be required to report to the FCA and PRA on aspects of their whistleblowing programs.
The watchdogs could have banned Staley and opting for a fine could dent the fledgling SMR’s credibility.
“The magnitude of banning the sitting CEO of such a systemically important institution made outcomes other than a fine unlikely, but the case does set an interesting precedent,” said Nicholas Queree, an associate at law firm Peters & Peters.
Staley received the draft warning notice last week and was given 28 days to accept the findings or appeal. If he agrees to pay the two fines he would get a 30 percent discount.
The fines have been set according to a formula that considers the type of offense, the offender’s position in the company, any financial hardship, any previous cases, and whether there was any monetary benefit from the offense.
“We ... will announce the outcome once this issue has reached a conclusion,” the FCA and PRA said in a statement.
Legal experts question whether a light sanction for Staley could send a signal to other potential bank whistleblowers that they risk unmasking if they speak out.
Barclays said it will recommend Staley’s re-election as a director at its board meeting on May 1. At the last annual meeting he faced resignation calls, but was given a public endorsement from Chairman John McFarlane.
Staley’s pay package was £3.88 million ($5.45 million) in 2017, 8.5 percent less than the previous year.