Monday, September 13, 2021

Air India Is Being Accused of Discriminating Against Pregnant Pilots

The Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association has written a letter to Air India’s managing director, accusing the airline of actively discriminating against pregnant women pilots, Hindustan Times has reported.

According to the airlines’ policy, upon reporting their pregnancy, women pilots are taken off all flight duties and shifted to desk jobs. Reportedly, their pay and incentives broadly remain the same. However, the names of women pilots, who avail maternity leaves, are often misspelled or simply excluded from organizational lists. This adversely affects their seniority and denies them benefits of their service, the letter alleges.

The airline’s actions are “insulting to [women pilots] and almost makes out pregnancy as if it is a stigma or a negative marker which makes the said woman pilot ‘unfit’ or ‘not qualified or entitled’ to discharge her duties ably, shoulder to shoulder with her male counterparts,” the letter notes.

The authors of the letter accused Air India of infringing upon “the constitutionally protected rights of its female pilot workforce” by resorting to pregnancy-related discrimination against expecting women professionals and violating their fundamental rights under Articles 14, 15, 16, 19, and 21 of the Constitution. “[T]herefore, [the airlines’ actions are] unconstitutional, illegal, arbitrary, and contrary to the judicial pronouncements on this issue,” the letter states.

Incidentally, this isn’t the first time Air India has been accused of sexist behavior. In fact, the airline has a long history of either patronizing women or treating them as lesser than their male counterparts.

As early as the 1980s, Air India was criticized for permitting male flight attendants to continue their service until they reached 58 years of age, but forcing their female counterparts to retire at the age of 35, or as soon as they got pregnant, or if they got married within the first four years of being in the airline’s service.

13/09/21 Devrupa Rakshit/Swaddle

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