Court orders Air India to rehire overweight air hostess

Chief Regulatory Officer at CSE Renuke Wijayawardhane presenting the listing certificate to Executive Chairperson at Renuka Hotels Shibani Thambiayah

NEW DELHI, December 10, 2010 (AFP) – An Indian court ordered state-run Air India on Friday to rehire an airline hostess that the carrier had sacked nearly a decade ago for being overweight. Dismissed overweight women have previously unsuccessfully challenged Air India’s policy in Indian courts, which upheld clauses in the group’s employment contracts.

Neepa Dhar, 44, joined the carrier as an airline attendant in 1987 but was grounded in 1997 due to her weight and finally dismissed in 2001.

The Calcutta High Court told the airline to pay all Dhar’s earnings owing since 2001 and to assign her to ground duty.

The airline declared Dhar unfit to work as a flight attendant after she became overweight from medication taken to treat “high altitude anxiety syndrome”, her lawyer told the court.

The court ruling came days after Air India voluntarily invited back 10 former flight hostesses it dismissed last year for being overweight as it sought to overcome a severe shortage of cabin crew.

Three had said they would be willing to come back, an airline spokesman said, but added the weight limits still applied — they are calculated on height and age — and that the women