By: Flyhigh Manila Staff
A Malaysia Airlines flight attendant was fired after being merely a pound overweight, in an unfair dismissal case. Ina Meliesa Hassim who has worked for the airline for 25 years, weighed 127 pounds. The airline's policy for flight attendants state that Body Mass Index (BMI) should fall within the "healthy range" to stay with the company. At 5'2" height, Ms. Hassim needed to maintain a weight of 126lbs.
The flight attendant then filed a complaint against Malaysia Airlines under section 20(3) of the Industrial Relations Act of 1967. The court however ruled in favor of the company.
The court also said that the company had the right to determine its own policy when it comes to employee weight. It said, “the weight management programme was in no way discriminatory as it applies among all crew and the company had at all times ensured that the claimant and all its crew were accorded every opportunity possible to achieve their optimum weight."
Malaysia Airlines grooming and uniform policies state that cabin crew who did not meet the required BMI will undergo a weight management program. In a circular to its employees, it said, "As cabin crew, apart from maintaining the appearance as set by the company, you are also responsible to ensure the safety of our passengers while in flights. Being front liners in uniform, cabin crew cast an unforgettable image in the minds of our valued guests. It is for this reason that the company considers the feedback received from our customers on the image of crew and inevitably even the appearance of cabin crew has been included as one of the attributes in the passenger flight experience survey and which is being tracked monthly. With this policy in place, the airline will see healthier cabin crew who will project an image befitting that of the world’s best cabin staff as well as for ensuring the passengers’ safety when the necessity arises.”
The airline claimed that Ms Hassim had been given 18 months to conform to the new policy and was provided with help from an in-house doctor. The airline said she had failed to attend several of her scheduled weigh-ins.
The flight attendant's lawyers however said that other international airlines do not have a BMI or weight requirement for their cabin crew in which no safety issue have ever risen.