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Gender Bias in the Aviation Industry

The case filed by Celio Diaz Jr. in the court of appeal as the plaintiff versus Pan American World Airways on April 6th, 1971 ushered in an era of equality on employment for prospective airline employees. Before this ruling, airlines had a hiring policy that ensured only female airline stewardess such as Terry Mason was hired for the job. Preferential treatment of women went against Title VII that required ‘At Will’ employment of personnel. Previously, being female was treated as a bona fide occupation qualification (BFOQ) for employment as a flight attendant. As a result, male applicants such as Diaz suffered prejudice and were wrongfully disqualified.

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The main findings of the appellate court established that Diaz and male applicants suffered discrimination. The first determination of the ruling was that employers and employees at will liberty to engage in a contract or quit at will with minimal legal implications. This ruling was in line with Section 703 of Title VII of the civil rights act of 1964 (Farnsworth, 2018). However, section 703 (a) of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 puts a limitation to the extent to which an employer can apply Title VII. According to The Pennsylvania State University (August, 2021) Section 703 (a) (1) of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, terms discrimination of employees based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin as unlawful and a violation of human rights. Therefore, the court of appeal was in agreement with Diaz that his rights as a male job applicant had been violated, and the airline had made selective application of the law by citing BFOQ as the guiding principle (Morgan, 2021). The jury further observed that due to cumulative years of discrimination against men for the job, there would be fewer successful male applicants for the job.

On the other hand, Terry Mason was pursuing her career as an airline stewardess having been preferred for the job as her gender resonated with the industry’s preference for female employees. Although the airline industry operated on “At Will” basis, Terry Mason had little freedom as she felt Objectified b her job. The airline industry believed that female employees were endearing to customers, and as such, they gave clients a wonderful experience flying with the airlines. As a result, the young girl from Nebraska, Terry Mason, was flying around the world and living her dream. Unlike Terry Mason, Diaz had unsuccessfully applied for a flight attendant position owing to his gender. Diaz suffered prejudice due to the selective interpretation of the law that gave female applicants an edge over their male counterparts.

Secondly, before the ruling, flight passengers were used to female employees such as Terry Mason. According to Shannon and Hunter (2020) female employees seemed acceptable for the job that had become stereotyped as a female preserve occupation. In flight attendant colleges there were hardly any male students. Therefore, Terry Mason enjoyed a privilege that Diaz would not get as a flight attendant due to existing stereotypes. Therefore, although the court of appeal had come into agreement with Diaz, changing perceptions amongst passengers would still pose a challenge to him and other male flight attendants. Male would appear rather odd for the job as was the case in subsequent years.

In conclusion, the findings of the court of appeal in the case of Cello Diaz versus Pan American World Airways, were significant towards employment equity. The judgment gave a clear interpretation of BFOQ preference and the true intention of section 703 (a) of the civil rights act of 1964. As a result, discrimination of flight attendant employees based on sex was brought to an end.

References

Farnsworth, L. (2018). Inferentialism, Title VII, and legal concepts. The University of Chicago Law Review, 85(7), 1775-1818.

Morgan, S. (2021). Working twice as hard for less than half as much: A socio-legal critique of the gendered justifications perpetuating unequal pay in sports. The Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts, 5(2), 17-118

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Shannon, J. H. & Hunter Jr. R. J. (2020). The Civil Rights Act of 1964: Beyond race to employment discrimination based on sex: The three letter word that has continued to vex society and the United States Supreme Court. Journal of Social and Political Sciences, 3(3), 18-161.

The Pennsylvania State University (2021) HR Fundamentals LER305 Retrieved from lesson 3: The Legal Environment of Work, World Campus; The Pennsylvania State University. Web.

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