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Australian Tribunal Hears Sex-Discrimination Case Against Virgin Blue

Eight women in Queensland, Australia are suing Virgin Blue airlines for sex discrimination. According to The Courier-Mail, the women are between the ages of 36 and 56, and Virgin Blue had employed only one woman over 35 during the period in question, between 2000 and 2002.

According to Agence France Presse, Theresa Stewart described her initial interview as a “cattle yard” that was intended to “view a large number of people in a very short space of time to see how they lookÉ If you had two beautiful blonde girls, 25 and gorgeous, then they went to them like homing pigeons.” The Courier-Mail reports that the initial interviews consisted of role-playing, skits, and songs, and did not include questions about the women’s previous airline experience. Chris Murdoch, lawyer for Virgin Blue, dismissed the women’s experience as irrelevant as Virgin Blue was “a different airline with a different character,” states The Australian.

Simon Hamlyn-Harris, the women’s lawyer, attempted to describe that character, referred to as “Virgin flair,” by pointing to a cover feature in men’s magazine FHM, according to Agence France Presse. The Australian reports that the piece ran in September 2002, featuring Virgin crew members as cover girls, along with suggestive comments about the airline and its employees.

Sources:

The Australian 5/10/05, 5/12/05; The Courier-Mail 5/10/05; Agence France Presse 5/9/05

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