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"Obese Philippine Flight Attendant Grounded"

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Old 11-01-2008, 03:49 PM   #1
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MANILA (AFP) - An obese flight steward for national flag carrier Philippine Airlines has been grounded for good by the Supreme Court after a 20-year legal battle, court records released Friday said.


http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/afp/phili...besity_offbeat
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Old 11-01-2008, 04:57 PM   #2
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Jeeeees... I don't even know what to say to that. Or where to begin.
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Old 11-02-2008, 12:52 PM   #3
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All planes, regardless of size/number of seats/number of emergency exits, are designed to be evacuated within 90 seconds in the event of an accident. Flight attendants are supposed to help -- not hamper -- the evacuation process, and they need to be able to move quickly. I think I agree with the airline's decision here, and agree with a lot of readers who left comments after the article - if he'd at least have taken the help offered, and tried, I'd have some sympathy.
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Old 11-02-2008, 12:56 PM   #4
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It kinda seems like there should be an absolute limit to dimensions, rather than a limit based on weight relative to height. I mean, you fit or you don't, regardless of how close you are to your "ideal" weight.
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Old 11-06-2008, 09:35 AM   #5
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I tend to agree with the airline's decision. From what the article says, he was given plenty of time to lose some weight. He repeatedly refused offers of medical assistance - I don't understand why; if not for his job, why not to lose weight for himself? It almost LOOKS like he wanted to stay overweight. (Of course, we don't have his side of the story).

What about if a firefighter loses his job because he is overweight and cannot perform his duties? Would you have any sympathy for him if your house burned down, or worse yet, if you lost a member of the family because the firefighter was obese and could climb up the ladder or fit through the window etc. etc. - there many other jobs where certain level of physical fitness is required.
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Old 11-06-2008, 04:09 PM   #6
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I agree...I want to be a police officer, and to be one I have to be in pretty good shape. I took it on myself (no help) to lose more than 100 pounds, get some muscles, and just generally be in better shape in order to meet their standards. I didn't cry "discrimination" and demand to be hired when I was 100pounds heavier. Also, I have a diploma in Travel and Tourism, I didn't even apply for a job as a flight attendant because I knew I wouldn't be able to maneuvre (sp?) easily around an aircraft. I applied for counter ticket agent positions though.
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Old 11-06-2008, 05:38 PM   #7
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I don't think weight, but ability should be the determiner. Using the firefighter example, are you more concerned about the weight of the firefighter or his ability to do the job? Can he or she lift and carry large weights for long periods of time and climb stairs quickly, navigate smoky interiors with a calm head, have good lung capacity, fit into the spaces he or she may be required to go.... all these are far more important than the actual BMI of a firefighter.

My dad worked with firefighters as a volunteer ambulance EMT, and two of the firemen in our town where HUGE. Not just tall men, but big all the way around. One was obese and the other morbidly obese by BMI standards. One guy looked to be more muscle than fat, but BMI and weight doesn't distinguish between the two. Both guys were well known for their ability to get people out of fires (they could carry the most weight, and were the most fearless, one so much so the other guys considered him kind of "crazy" because of it). It would be a shame if either were fired because of their weight.


I think the same should go for the flight attendant. If he can move as fast as needed and fit through the necessary space - then I don't believe his weight (or his willingness to lose it) should be a factor. If even one of the smaller flight attendants is slower or less nimble than he is - I think the airline is wrong. However, if he is the slowest, or doesn't fit - that is the REAL issue - the performance of job duties - not the actual BMI that should be the issue.

Now, I also realize that BMI does tend to play a role in physical ability, and the performance of some job duties. The military has weight requirements in addition to fitness requirements and airlines should be free to do the same, as long as the restrictions aren't unreasonable - though what is reasonable and what isn't, is going to continue to be somewhat subjective and open to argument.
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Old 11-06-2008, 05:47 PM   #8
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While I agree that ability should be the primary issue here, I do think that it appears this guy didn't really make any effort to demonstrate that this weight wasn't affecting his ability.

And this just annoys the heck out of me:
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He argued that his being fat was a "sickness and a physical abnormality" that was beyond his control.
Especially when he refused the offer of medical help.

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Old 11-06-2008, 07:30 PM   #9
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I don't just think that ability should be the primary focus, I think it should be the only focus (for both the airlines and the flight attendant), not whether his weight was or was not beyond his control or whether he did or did not accept help.

If none of the other flight attendants are required to prove their ability to do the job, then neither should he be required to do so (the burden of proof of his inability to do the job should be on the airlines, not him in that case). If all of the other flight attendants have to prove their ability, regardless of weight (I sure hope this would be the case) then so should he.

There are always going to be people who file lawsuits they are unlikey to win. There will always be people who file lawsuits other people will consider frivolous. I'm not going to argue whether or not this guy's original complaint was frivolous or not (though on the surface, it seems so). He has as much right as anyone to file a law suit, stupid or not (that it reflects poorly upon overweight people, and could inspire some people to think we're all stupid, whiny babies, irks me to no end). That it took twenty years to resolve, to me suggests a very bogged-down or bizarre legal system (or there were complaints that had a legitimate basis that aren't being publicized).

In the US, laws against discrimination (whether related to age, race, and disability) are all supposed to be based on ability to do the job. Being of a particluar age, race or disability is not supposed to assure you a job you're not able to do - but both employers and employees have been known to interpret it that way. I've known employers to believe they cannot fire a minority employee, even for gross incompetence, thinking that once they hired them, they cannot fire them. That's not how the law is supposed to be interpreted.

In the case of disability (which is apparently the theory this guy was going for), US employers are required to make reasonable accomodations for disabilities - but what constitutes a disability, a reasonable accomodation, or an inability to do the job can be somewhat ambiguous. However, since the flight attendant himself called it a "sickness" and then refused medical assistance, this would (I would think) be seen as inconsistent with his claim.

I think most often the law (and common sense) prevails - as it did apparently in this case. Why it took 20 years to resolve is a separate question.

In the US, few states have laws against weight discrimination, so it's pefectly legal in most of the country for an employer to fire a person who is overweight, just for being overweight whether or not it affects the person's ability to do the job. You can be the hardest working, most successful person in your position, and you can still be fired because of your weight regardless of the justification (insurance costs, corporate image, or just because "the boss hates fat people").
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Old 12-25-2008, 12:48 PM   #10
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I realize this is an old thread but I hadn't seen this article before and it's interesting.

I also think ability should be the determining factor and that BMI is not always a good indicator of physical ability and health, it is just the opposite, as athletic people tend to have higher than average BMI, which is not a measurement that is that all that relative to muscular people.

But in this case, apparently, that wasn't the argument by the employee. The person was deemed obese by the standards of the employer, seemed to agree that he was obese but refused offers of help to conform to the weight standard. I'd agree with the airline's decision.

I do think some jobs require a level of physical fitness and the ability to fit into given spaces. I do think weight is a factor in some jobs (like jockeys, for instance, they are generally required to be light and small).

If a person who has a good job that they like agrees that he is overweight and requested to lose weight in order to keep the job and offered help to do so, it seems reasonable to expect them to comply.
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