Cathay Pacific's choice to fire unvaccinated aircrew who failed to provide proof of medical exemption was recently called out by Equal Opportunities Commission for possibly breaching discrimination laws, according to multiple reports.
Quoting Ricky Chu, chairman of the Equal Opportunities Commission, the reports said the difference in how the airline's staff were treated could be regulated under the Disability Discriminations Ordinance depending on individual cases. Chu said some of the dismissed staff had contacted the Equal Opportunities Commission. In a radio programme, Chu also said that if employees felt that they were treated differently or were being discriminated just because they did not receive vaccination, they can file an inquiry or complaint to the Equal Opportunities Commission.
He said health-related reasons could be a valid explanation for not getting vaccinated. Legal action and mediation can be used as a method of dealing with those who felt unfairly treated and whose claims were deemed valid.
Earlier this month, Cathay Pacific has fired a small number of unvaccinated aircrew who failed to provide proof of medical exemption before the 31 August deadline. Up to 80 unvaccinated cabin crew were in the firing list as the airline began disciplinary proceedings against them on 1 September. In a statement to MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, Cathay Pacific confirmed that it had part company with only "a small number" of aircrew who had decided not to receive either of the two available COVID-19 vaccines, and had not provided proof of medical exemption.
"It's clear to us all now that COVID-19 is a terrible virus and that keeping our customers, communities, and families safe is of the utmost importance. The pandemic has also had a huge impact on us operationally and border controls around the world have dramatically reduced our ability to operate with unvaccinated aircrew," the statement said.
Cathay Pacific also confirmed that from 1 September onwards, it has been operating all flights with fully vaccinated aircrew. It was also reported that The Staff and Workers Union of Hong Kong Civil Airlines has yet to receive a request for assistance from the airline's cabin crew, although some of the airline's ground crew have reached out to the union as they were required to to submit medical exemption proof before the 1 October deadline.
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