A flight attendant who was sacked for being heavier than her airline’s maximum weight requirement has lost her unfair dismissal case.
Ina Meliesa Hassim was fired from Malaysia Airlines in 2017 after the airline found her to be in excess of what is considered to be her healthy body mass index, also known as BMI, in 2015.
A BMI is a value derived from a person’s height and weight.
The Industrial Court of Malaysia heard the flight attendant, who is 160cm tall, weighed 64.2kg after the airline first asked her to step onto the scale in 2016.
However, Malaysia Airlines’ guidelines meant she had to be 61kg. Ms Hassim was subjected to weight management and gym programs.
On April 10, 2017, after several weigh-ins, Ms Hassim was found to be 700g overweight and was fired from her job.
However, the court found the reasoning for employees to fulfil weight requirements was sufficiently explained by Malaysia Airlines to its staff in an email from 2015.
“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,” the email reads.
“Being front liners in uniform, cabin crew cast an unforgettable image in the minds of our valued guests.”
The email also explained the airline was implementing a weigh-in process in January 2016.
Ms Hassim’s lawyers argued the airline claiming excess weight is a safety risk to be “frivolous”, adding “airlines such as British Airways, Luftansa, KLM and Qantas are known for not having a minimum BMI weight for their cabin crews and have not yet encountered such safety risks”.
Malaysia Airlines also argued Ms Hassim failed on a number of occasions to attend weigh-ins.
The company added the former employee had been given “sufficient time and opportunity” to meet the weight requirement and had tried to find alternative employment for her. She was given 18 months.
The court ruled in favour of Malaysia Airlines as the court found Ms Hassim was fired with “just cause or excuse” and she had “failed to show satisfactory evidence that the termination was tainted with mala fide or that the termination was a form of victimisation”.
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