Malaysia Airlines under fire for firing overweight cabin crew

Five flight attendants were reportedly dismissed for failing to "achieve their ideal weight" as per their contracts.

Malaysia Airlines has come under scrutiny for allegedly dismissing flight attendants who had, literally, tipped the scales.

The National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (Nufam) said on September 21 that a “first wave” of sackings saw the removal of five flight attendants: three men and two women, all above the age of 50.

Nufam president Ismail Nasaruddin alleged that 20 more cabin crew members were expected to be sacked in the coming weeks.

He added that the sackings are illegal under the Employment Act, which does not permit the termination of staff under such reasoning.

“This is a classic case of discrimination which needs to be stopped. It is unfair and cruel to the cabin crew,” Ismail told the New Straits Times.

“This is the same as sacking any female workers for being sick or pregnant. It is unacceptable,” he said.

While confessing that notices on their respective “weight statuses” were dispatched to the affected employees before their termination, Ismail said such clauses were never part of the employees’ contracts.

The termination letters stated that the staff had each “continuously failed to achieve their ideal weight as per the company’s grooming manual,” despite being on a weight management programme for 18 months.

When probed for a response, Malaysia Airlines said it would not publicly discuss issues involving employees, but did say in a statement: “All internal processes were followed before we arrived at the decision.” 

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