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Air India Can Fire Flight Attendants For Fat

Air India Attendants Too Fat (Ugly) to Fly? Court Says A-OK

India's state-owned airline, Air India, has just won the right to prevent attendants from taking flight for carrying on extra weight. The Delhi high court ruled on a case filed by five flight attendants protesting the fact that they'd been grounded by the airline for being too fat to fly. They're expected to appeal.

The judges sided with the airlines, saying a chubby crew presents a safety hazard — but then there's this addition to the judgment — in the highly competitive airline industry, flight attendant's physical condition and appearance play an important role in her overall personality. (Emphasis, mine.) How can someone's appearance dictate her personality? I buy that flight attendants have to be in a physical condition good enough to save people from a burning plane, but the beauty factor of the ruling is not so pretty.

The government-run airline is up against private airlines who don't clothe their employees in traditional saris, opting for Western get-ups, and they've pinpointed the crux of being competitive with their employees' looks. At a recent recruitment drive the airline refused applicants with acne or bad teeth.

Can a court rule that the attractiveness of an employee has business ramifications? OK, some industries — modeling, and the like — depend on appearance, but maintaining safety on an aircraft? Is the ruling fair justice, or just pretty ugly?


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