Did a Spanish airline require its female job applicants to take pregnancy tests in the name of safety or sexism?
According to government labor authorities on the Spanish island of Majorca, it’s the latter.
Spain’s Iberia Airlines was fined $29,000 for gender discrimination for its policy that required women being considered for cabin crew jobs to prove they’re not pregnant, CNN reports.
The airline’s reasoning for administering the tests was supposedly to protect women from risks to their pregnancy that may occur as a result of flying. Pregnant cabin staff members are reportedly relieved of flying duties immediately after it becomes known that they are with child, and they are relinquished of any duties that may endanger their own health or their baby’s.
On the surface, the policy may seem reasonable, perhaps even noble, but in actuality, it is quite sexist. Furthermore, by forcing each woman to take the test, the airline is implying that these women cannot be trusted to reveal their own pregnancy.
"Given the controversy arising from the current protocol in place to protect pregnant women, we will no longer include a pregnancy test in the medical examination for new hires," Dr. Maria Teresa Garcia Menendez, an airline official, said in a statement following the steep fine.
In addition to being chauvinistic, the policy is unnecessary. As CNN notes, guidelines from the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecologists state that — with the exception of any pre-existing complications — pregnant women are typically able to fly up to 36 weeks of pregnancy, which is nearly full-term.
Despite facing backlash for their practices, Iberia released a statement maintaining that it has “never rejected a qualified candidate for employment on the grounds of pregnancy,” and they previously hired five out of six pregnant candidates for handling positions.
Although it took stark criticism and a hefty fine to get the airline to take a second look at its procedures, the company was clearly long overdue for a policy change.