In the case Seville v Flybe the airline employee wins sex discrimination case after request for flexible working is denied.
Emma Seville requested flexible working when she returned from maternity leave. Before maternity leave, Seville worked a flexible 22 days a month. Upon her return she requested to work on a fixed, pre arranged rota for 11 days a month, this request was denied.
Seville complained that she had difficulties finding nurseries because of her unusual working hours. These arrangements put female cabin crew members at a disadvantage compared to their male colleagues.
Seville said: “They point-blank refused. They told me that a significant part of the workforce was already on fixed hours and they couldn’t get any more people in that pot because it would have a detrimental effect on the business.
“You would be waiting for the rotas, anxiously holding your breath to see what you would be getting. I felt let down. I felt I had given 13 years’ service. My individual situation and my loyalty were not taken into consideration,” she added.
Flybe claim they fully considered Sevilles request but thought it would cause problems. They also added that there was a fixed rota system in place and shifts could be swapped.
Seville’s claim for sex discrimination was a success but she lost the claim for flexible working.
Tribunal judge Lynne Findlay said cabin-crew work was dominated by women mainly of child-bearing age, and added: “This placed women at a disadvantage compared with men.”
Angie Crush, partner at Thomas Mansfield Solicitors said “It could easily have a knock-on effect on other industries. If an airline company, trying to schedule flights around the world with the logistics that involves is now expected to consider the impact this may have on women, it is difficult to see how any other industry could argue that it would not be reasonable for them to do the same.”
If you need help with understanding what is and isn’t discrimination, we suggest you get in touch. Discrimination can happen in all manner of ways – just one example is asking an employee to speak English at work…
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