A Spanish Airline’s Unusual Job Requirement: A Pregnancy Test



“There is no reason to justify it,” the Unión General de Trabajadores, one of Spain’s two main labor unions, said in a statement. It added that if a company did ask for it, “we would evidently be faced with a clear case of discrimination.”

Spain’s minister for health, social services and equality, Dolors Montserrat, did not directly address the Iberia fine, but in an emailed statement, she said the authorities would “continue to be extremely vigilant against any form of work discrimination based on sex or for any other reason.”

The carrier, which is part of the International Airlines Group — one of the world’s largest air travel businesses and the parent company of British Airways and Aer Lingus — said the test was among multiple examinations that were administered after candidates had been selected to be hired but before a formal job offer was tendered.

“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,” said Maria Teresa Garcia Menéndez, the company’s health and safety officer.

Other airlines have been criticized over their hiring practices, particularly when it comes to dealing with female job candidates and employees.

Two female flight attendants at Aeroflot, the Russian flag carrier, sued the airline for age and sex discrimination after it began enforcing weight guidelines for cabin crews last year. The women said they were barred from international flights because their clothing sizes were larger than the rules allowed. Aeroflot has denied the claims.

And in May, two flight attendants working for Frontier Airlines, a no-frills carrier based in Denver, sued the company, asserting that they were discriminated against when they were not allowed to pump breast milk while on duty.

Iberia said it had not rejected any qualified candidates for being pregnant, insisting that it had strict rules for protecting pregnant employees. Female cabin workers are moved away from flying duties as soon as they notify the company of their pregnancies; this month, more than 32 female cabin attendants have been assigned to different jobs because they were pregnant, according to the airline.

In the past year, it said in its statement, six pregnant women applied for jobs in its handling division, and five were hired. The sixth was rejected after failing an airport driving test. It did not provide details for other departments.

An airline spokeswoman said she did not know how long the medical exam and pregnancy test had been part of the application process.

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