DISMISSED DUE TO WEIGHT

DISMISSED DUE TO WEIGHT

 INA MELIESA BINTI HASSIM V MALAYSIA AIRLINES BERHAD

(AWARD NO: 394 OF 2020)

FACTS 

  • The Claimant joined the Company as airline stewardess since 1993 and was terminated in 2017 from her position as Flight Supervisor. 
  • In June 2015, the Claimant’s weight was found to be in excess of her BMI and was subjected to management weight program and her flying duties were altered to allow her to undergo diet and exercise training in gymnasium provided by the Company.
  • The Claimant had subsequently failed to reach the minimum BMI weight by the Company and was grounded from performing her primary duties of flying as FLight Supervisor.
  • The Company had arranged for the Claimant to be given the opportunity to undergo an interview with another company for an executive role for groundwork. She attended the first interview, however when she was informed that she will be disabled from performing her primary skill in leading the flying crew, she was discouraged from pursuing a career there.
  • The Claimant did not get through her weight management program which eventually led to her dismissal.

ISSUES 

  • Whether there was a dismissal and if so, whether the proved misconduct constitutes just cause excuse for dismissal under the circumstances.

COURT REASONING AND FINDING 

  • The Claimant was notified of the Weight Management Program what was to begin in January 2016 as early as October 2015. The Company had subsequently informed its crew again with the same details of the weight management program via circular in November 2015.
  • The Company had provided its entire Crew including the Claimant with assistance to achieve their optimal weight.
  • The Company had accorded the Claimant with ample time to achieve her optimal weight. This was conceded by the Claimant herself during cross-examination that the Company had indeed taken several initiatives over an extensive period of time to assist the Claimant to achieve her optimal weight. 
  • The weight management program was in no way discriminatory as it applies among all the 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.

KEY TAKEAWAYS 

  • The weight management policy and the subsequent program was introduced by the Company with a justified and warranted rationale i.e. to maintain the premium image of the brand. The image of the crew is an important aspect to maintain the Company’s premium status and to ensure the safety of the passengers while in flights.
  • The termination did not take place immediately and the Claimant was given ample opportunities and chances to comply with the policies in which she had failed. 
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