A Moscow court on yesterday ruled in favor of a flight attendant who claimed Russia’s flagship airline stopped assigning her to work long-haul international flights because of her looks.
The Moscow City Court overturned a ruling by a district court that had rejected Yevgeniya Magurina’s claim that she was sidelined as part of Aeroflot’s drive to make its cabin crews younger and more physically attractive.
The flight attendant’s lawsuit put a spotlight on how women in modern Russia still often are judged by their looks.
Magurina submitted pay slips showing that she stopped receiving bonus pay that had comprised roughly 20 percent of her income after she asked for a larger-sized uniform. She says she also no longer was assigned the role of senior steward.
Magurina had requested 500,000 rubles (USD8,700) in damages and for the court to rule the company’s regulations on clothing sizes discriminatory. The court on Wednesday upheld her discrimination claim, but awarded the flight attendant just 5,000 rubles ($87) in damages.
Her attorney welcomed the ruling, calling it “definitely a victory.”
“We were not suing for money. We wanted the court to acknowledge that you cannot treat people like that,” lawyer Ksenia Michaylichenko said.
Aeroflot’s press office did not have immediate comment.
Magurina claimed her experience was part of a broader move that affected hundreds of other flight attendants who faced pay cuts and were taken off the prestigious long-haul flights. An appeal by another Aeroflot flight attendant who came forward with a similar claim is expected to be heard later this month.
Magurina said a sympathetic manager leaked her documents showing that some 600 of Aeroflot’s 7,000 cabin crew employees, most of them women, were reassigned to shorter flights without bonus pay because they were considered too “old, fat and ugly.”
Aeroflot denied the claims of discrimination in court, arguing that the company had no obligation to pay bonuses.
But it acknowledged its preference for slimmer cabin crews, arguing that there were objective reasons for it. Aeroflot insisted that overweight attendants could pose a safety risk by blocking emergency exits and require more costly fuel to transport. Nataliya Vasilyeva, Moscow, AP