Thursday, 7 September 2017

Aeroflot Stewardess Wins Court Battle

A major step forward for female equality and rights in Russia took place in Moscow on Wednesday when a court ruled in favor of a flight stewardess who claimed Aeroflot, Russia’s leading national airline stopped using her on long-haul international flights because she'd put on some weight.

The Moscow City Court overturned a previous ruling by a district court that had rejected Yevgeniya Magurina’s claim that the airline had sidelined her as part of its campaign to make cabin crews more physically attractive and younger.

Yevgeniya Magurina, whose 42, submitted pay slips showing that she had stopped receiving bonus pay, which comprised roughly 20 percent of her income, after she asked for a larger-sized uniform. She also says she no longer was assigned the role of senior steward after asking for a bigger uniform.

Magurina had requested 500,000 rubles ($8,700) in damages and for the court to rule that Aeroflot’s regulations on clothing sizes is discriminatory. The court on Wednesday upheld Magurina’s discrimination claim, ordered Aeroflot to pay her the missing bonus pay but awarded her just 5,000 rubles ($87) in damages.  Russia courts do not normally award major damages even if they do uphold a claim in full.

“We were not suing for money. We wanted the court to acknowledge that you cannot treat people like that,” lawyer Ksenia Michaylichenko said.

Magurina said her experience was part of a broader move that affected hundreds of other Aeroflot flight attendants who faced pay cuts and were taken off prestigious long-haul flights. An appeal by another Aeroflot flight attendant with a similar claim is expected to be heard later this month.

Magurina said a sympathetic manager leaked her documents showing that some 600 of Aeroflot’s 7,000 cabin crew employees, most of them women, were reassigned to shorter flights without bonus pay because they were considered too “old, fat and ugly.”

Aeroflot in court denied the claims of discrimination, arguing that the company had no obligation to pay bonuses.  But the company acknowledged its preference for slimmer cabin crews, claiming that there were objective reasons for it. Aeroflot said overweight attendants could pose a safety risk by blocking emergency exits and required more costly fuel to transport.

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