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BA Pilot's sex discrimination case. (Update: Now includes Tribunal's judgement)

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BA Pilot's sex discrimination case. (Update: Now includes Tribunal's judgement)

Old 10th Jan 2005, 23:40
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The challenge of child care in the aviation profession does not only apply to female pilots.

When my wife died suddenly in 1994 I was flying for ExCalibur Airways and I had two sons aged 8 and 15 years. I attempted to negotiate a flexible working arrangement with the company which would last about 2 or 3 years. I was told this was not possible because it would set a president for others wanting to do the same!!

Whilst single male parents tend to be a minority group (don't I know it), most employers just do not seem to understand that aircrew face specific challenges in this area. It just is not like a 9 to 5 job - try and get childcare arrangements for a standby etc!!

Also it's not the sort of job where you can be sitting at 35,000 ft worried about whether the children are being looked after ok. In short, a pilot worried about the kids is not a safe pilot.

I decided to leave the airline business to look after the kids - I now know it was the right decision although getting back into it after a few years out is proving challenging.

All you (male) pilots out there with kids - just ask yourself what YOU would do if your partner was no longer there?
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Old 10th Jan 2005, 23:56
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I despair at some of the dinosaur like attitudes expressed in this thread, typical of that which us women pilots must endure almost daily, despite the so called "equality" of the 3rd millenium. Oh but surely they say, doesn't the case of Jessica Starmer just prove that we should know our place and not stray further than the kitchen or bedroom?

Well hello, the world's gender stereotypes are changing rapidly, not just in terms of liberating the afgans who have been wearing the burka for centuries, but also in our "free" western societies. Who would have imagined only 50 years ago, the huge number of all female cockpits now flying around europe? What hasn't changed in all this time and won't ever change? We make babies - you don't.

The workplace is constantly evolving and changing - or should the world go into reverse? Do you want shops to close at 5pm weekdays and never open on Sundays? So deal with it. We will continue to advance into traditional male-dominated roles and yet fulfil without compromise our natural ability (not role) as mothers - employment law will adapt as necessary.

I expect to hear this sort of rubbish from the members of ones local aero club or flying school, but not from so called professionals. Just reread some of your posts "gentlemen" and decide if you would be happy for someone (or an employer) to express these thoughts about YOUR daughter, sister or mother. Give us a break!
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Old 11th Jan 2005, 01:40
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Some folk can't do some jobs because of their other commitments or because of the lifestyle they want. Working shifts, flying longhaul and other jobs that mean spending periods away from home are often out. Bad luck. You make your choice and find a job that suits.

In the BA case, both parents are pilots and they have a child and expect BA to allow her to work 50% AND adjust their rosters so one of them can be at home at a time.
She says they ain't got room for a nanny. So move house to somewhere with an extra bedroom.

If they can't or won't do that, then they should decide between them which one of them is gonna move to a different airline where they can work 50% or give up flying for the sake of their child.

Oh no, let's not put ourselves out for the sake of the child. Let's take BA to court for for sex discrimination and hope some crackpot will tell the airline they have to change their rostering for the sake of the child.

Having a child isn't an illness or a disability, it's a lifestyle choice and it means you have to make some sacrifices.

I hope the airline wins but I wouldn't bet on it these days.
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Old 11th Jan 2005, 06:53
  #44 (permalink)  
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Unfortunately in Blair's Politically correct Britain of today she will probably win her case.

AS you say having a baby is a choice.

I notice she is only 26, yet has a year old daughter,only 1100 hours flying. We are told she is on short haul A320 at Heathrow yet lives in Dorset.

If an Airline has to employ 2 people at 50% then the extra costs of 4 sim checks ,two sets of Uniforms and all the other things add considerably to costs. She should have thought a little more before coming into this business. The next thing she will be asking for late morning starts and no night flying. Where and when will this madness end??
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Old 11th Jan 2005, 07:41
  #45 (permalink)  
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you guys are being a wee bit harsh.
There is always a place on the flight deck for lady pilots......it makes the overnights much more interesting and besides, there is now someone to do the RT.

TAKE COVER !!!!!!!
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Old 11th Jan 2005, 07:53
  #46 (permalink)  
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I am with Bronx on this.

They should have figured out how they were going to work the family thing before she got pregnant.

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Old 11th Jan 2005, 07:59
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Talking of the changes BA made, prior to the new rules was it "No part time working with less than 2000hours" and was it then changed to " 75% working only with less than 2000hours". Over 2000hours all entitled to 50% part time contracts.

Seems a pretty sensible rule to me and has nothing to do with discrimination. Don't tell me that some of our lady friends think they should maybe have part time working through training with possibly a creche as well.

The flight deck is no place for inexperienced part timers. Their age, race, sex or religion is irrelevent.

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Old 11th Jan 2005, 09:46
  #48 (permalink)  
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This problem only arose because BA employed female pilots.

A statement of fact - nothing else!

Women claim they want "equal" rights, then having achieved that, want EXTRA rights.

Sorry to state the truth, ladies, but you ARE built differently to men - your hormones are different, your muscles are different, your needs are different.

Where I work, it is not unusual for one of the female staff to have to step down from work, simply because she is UNABLE to perform due to her monthly menstrual cycle.
Later in life menopause will come into play.
Let's stop pretending, shall we.
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Old 11th Jan 2005, 09:59
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what kaptin says made me think....

WARNING - this is not my view
chatting to a very senior figure in a well known UK (non-aviation) plc a while back who told me he would never employ anyone from a non white ethnic background or a female in his management team. ever.

reason he gave was that he dismissed a black lady some time ago for what he says were totally justifiable reasons. the employment tribunal that followed was lengthy, expensive and extremely damaging to his and the company's reputation. She argued sex and racial discrimination. She lost eventually. He pointed out that a white male would not have the ability to resort to spurious claims such as this. Since then he has implemented what he calls a "minimal risk" employment policy - white males only.

sad but true
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Old 11th Jan 2005, 10:13
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Just reread some of your posts "gentlemen" and decide if you would be happy for someone (or an employer) to express these thoughts about YOUR daughter, sister or mother. Give us a break!
So whose responsibility is it to decide to have a child and understand the potential impact on career, social life etc?

Last time I checked, it's the potential parents.
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Old 11th Jan 2005, 10:15
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Without pretending for a moment that I know anything about the facts of this case (a pity others here wouldn't admit the same!!), the aviation profession (and specifically pilots) makes a different case from many other jobs. Two of the more obvious reasons are 1) the huge cost of training and, to a lesser extent, jobsharing, and 2) the potential consequences if the person doing a complicated and highly responsible job screws up through fatigue or distraction. While it may be desirable and humane to have jobsharing, etc, the costs to companies in different industries vary hugely - therefore, as long as it is voluntary rather than statutory, any company is entitled to set its own rules. If you take an extreme example, US lady fighter pilots take the job on strict Terms and Conditions that would have other women up in arms, given the Air Force spends a huge amount of money training them and demands its pound of flesh in terms of commitment as a result.

Pilots are highly educated, intelligent people, and they can read a contract better than most. What applied at the time the deed was done (as long as it was legal) is what counts, and no amount of comments re; kitchens or cockpits will change that.
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Old 11th Jan 2005, 11:09
  #52 (permalink)  
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Letís make this right, when she decided to be a pilot and applied to BA she new what kind of life she can expect. She new that her husband is doing the same kind of job and that there is no room for a kid. She got pregnant anyway and now expect the company to adapt to her new life with the kid. Well that is little unrealistic, donít you think so. If companies like BA should adapt to all life changes of their employees then they wouldnít last for long. She should let her husband fly and she should change her job so they can all be happy, not expecting some extra rules to be applied to her.
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Old 11th Jan 2005, 11:11
  #53 (permalink)  

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Just thought I'd visit PPRuNe to see what the opinions were on this case. The low level of debate in this thread and the uninformed and bigoted opinions displayed here remind me of the reasons why I hardly visit here any more.

This is a test case to clarify an area of BA pilots contracts and BA chose to let it run to the stage where Jessica took it to tribunal.

Unless you are familiar with BA's t's & c's and UK employment law with regards to part-time, it is very easy to make yourselves look stupid when you commit your posting to the forum.

Some people should get hold of some facts before they shoot their mouths off. Jessica deserves credit for having the courage to take this public, I'll bet she doesn't bother to read the drivel on here.
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Old 11th Jan 2005, 11:13
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Either way BA loose. If she wins her case it opens the floodgates and all sorts of problems arise for BA which lead to an increase in costs.

If BA win then its a PR disaster as many in the public will see BA being just what she says it is.

Its a real hot potato.
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Old 11th Jan 2005, 11:33
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The opinions posted here are representative of a cross section of the thoughts of individuals who peruse PPRuNe, overstress

That they are "uninformed and bigoted opinions" is YOUR opinion only, and a matter of conjecture.
IMO, your last post reeks of an inability to accept that perhaps YOUR opinion is a minority one that doesn't fit in with the majority consensus, and hence your attempt to belittle.

Quite frankly, some people are sick and tired of some minorities trying to convice the world that left is right, right is wrong, and unnatural is normal.
it is very easy to make yourself look stupid when you commit your posting to the forum.
Heed your own words.
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Old 11th Jan 2005, 11:39
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I have looked for facts on this case e.g. balpa site. news sites, BA site etc and have found limited resources. If you're in a position to direct me to more information it would be most useful. Short of that all others such as myself can do is speculate amongst ourselves and offer thoughts based on what one knows and/or thinks (like a rumour - ;-) )

As for the couple having courage to take this to public yes it is brave, very - indeed. I imagine a lot of people will have told her so, as happens in life people support a just cause, however ask them to get involved and very often they will fade into the shadows, "erm, well really I dont want to get involved" as someone said above biting the hand that feeds.
e.g. no disrespect but I havent seen a photo yet of the happy couple taking BA to a tribunal, I can't see the partner in any photos.

Anyway, as I said if you could point us to more facts that'd be great.

as a side issue I personally can't imagine it will do wonders for either partners advancement prospects in the airline or with another airline, sad but true.

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Old 11th Jan 2005, 11:40
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Fascinating thread. I work for BA but was a DEP having had a previous career and also worked for other airlines.

Having followed the thread on the same subject on the BA section of the BALPA forum striking differences are apparent.

90% of the contributors on the BALPA forum think she is wholly deserving in her case.

However here, where it could be argued people live in the real world, the more rational posters are saying that it is a choice and that commercial organisations should not have to continually adapt beyond what is reasonable, with the inherent costs, to the whims and wishes of the workforce.

Strikes me that after all the investment in her training (flying college, sim conversion, line training) to have flown 1200 hours in 4 years and now want to work 50% is an abysmal return on investment. Or isn't that important?
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Old 11th Jan 2005, 11:46
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AndyPany returns on investment very important.
Employed 5/01 & people fly into towers 9/01 could that have a lot to do with the hours ?
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Old 11th Jan 2005, 12:00
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I have no inside knowledge of this case, but 2 thoughts for the anti mothers on the flightdeck brigade:

You complain about parents needing extra time to deal with their kids, whilst the heroic non-parents hold the fort. Have you ever thought who keeps the country going financially with their taxes after you retire - that's right, younger taxpayers. And where do they come from? So to complain that it is all pain and no gain for non-parents is not quite right.

Secondly, I know from personal experience that although planning how it is going to be after a child comes along is all very nice, the reality that bites can often be much different. You don't know in advance whether your child will sleep all night from a couple of months old, or wake up several times a night until they are 5 years old. Will they be good at amusing themselves so that you can get household stuff done as well as care for them at the times you are home? There are many other issues, but those 2 alone can make a huge difference.

Even parents whose partner isn't working can underestimate the impact of a kid, and how much time they soak up, so couples new to the game should get some slack if they didn't get the advance plan quite right.
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Old 11th Jan 2005, 12:01
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I feel very sorry for these three people (Him, Her and the Baby) who are so alone in the world.

They have no extended family, no friends and no access to child minding facilities.

Some people can work full time and still find time to hang out with the Granchildren!

If they are that alone, perhaps a career break for a few years would be a good idea.


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