Spanish airline is fined for making female applicants take a pregnancy test

Story highlights

  • The reason Iberia Airlines cited for it was derided as sexist
  • It said the test was meant to protect women from risks to their pregnancy

(CNN)After it was slapped with a fine, Spain's Iberia Airlines has decided it won't ask female job applicants to take a test to prove they're not pregnant.

Iberia is Spain's national flag carrier. Its pregnancy test requirement for cabin crew jobs-- and the reason the airline cited for it -- was widely derided as sexist.
The airline said the tests were administered to protect women from potential risks to their pregnancy.
    Pregnant cabin staff are relieved of flying duties as soon as their pregnancies are known, the company said, and are not assigned duties that could endanger their health of their child.

    Policy change

    That reasoning didn't fly with authorities in Mallorca, one of Spain's Balearic Islands. The regional government's labor department fined it $29,000 for gender discrimination.
    "Given the controversy arising from the current protocol in place to protect pregnant women, we will no longer include a pregnancy test in the medical examination for new hires," Dr. Maria Teresa Garcia Menendez, an airline official, said in a statement.
    Guidelines from the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecologists say that barring any complications, pregnant women can travel by air normally up to 36 weeks of pregnancy.
    Another US federal government study found that miscarriage among flight attendants was not any more common than among teachers.
    In a news release, Iberia made clear it "has never rejected a qualified candidate for employment on the grounds of pregnancy." The company had recently hired five out of six pregnant applicants for a handling position.
    Seventy-one per cent of Iberia's flight attendants are women -- lower than the American average of almost 76 percent.