“Her letter of dismissal said it was ‘proportionate’ to ask female employees to walk behind men out of respect for Saudi culture.” More dhimmitude from the same airline. “BMI told stewardess to wear Muslim robe,” by Jon Ungoed-Thomas for Times Online, April 26:
A BRITISH air stewardess was sacked for refusing to fly to Saudi Arabia after she was ordered to wear a traditional Islamic robe and walk behind male colleagues.
Lisa Ashton, a Â£15,000-a-year stewardess with BMI, was told that in public areas in Saudi Arabia she was required to wear a black robe, known as an abaya. This covers everything but the face, feet and hands. She was told to follow her male colleagues, irrespective of rank.
Ashton, 37, who was worried about security in the country, refused to fly there, claiming the instructions were discriminatory. She was sacked last April.
“It’s not the law that you have to walk behind men in Saudi Arabia, or that you have to wear an abaya, and I”m not going to be treated as a second-class citizen,” Ashton said last week.
“It’s outrageous. I”m a proud Englishwoman and I don’t want these restrictions placed on myself.”
Saudi experts and companies that recruit women to work in the country say it is a “myth” that western women are required to walk behind men. There is no requirement for them to wear the abaya in public, though many do.[…]
A BMI document circulated to staff who might travel to Saudi Arabia stated: “It is expected that female crew members will walk behind their male counterparts in public areas such as airports no matter what rank.”
Staff were also given abayas and were required to put them on when leaving the aircraft. Ashton, a practising Christian, was advised by union officials that it was considered a part of the uniform and she could face disciplinary action if she did not wear it.
Ashton said she did not want to fly to Saudi Arabia, but wished to continue flying long-haul routes. The firm said she could transfer to short-haul flights but that would have meant a pay cut of about 20%. She declined to switch to short-haul flights.
On June 13, 2007, she was told she was rostered for a flight from London to Saudi Arabia and refused to go. She was dismissed for refusing to fly and for making it clear she would not travel to Saudi Arabia.
Her letter of dismissal said it was “proportionate” to ask female employees to walk behind men out of respect for Saudi culture. BMI has also defended its decision to require female staff to wear abayas.[…]
Since leaving BMI, Ashton has embarked on a musical career. She said one of her first songs, Shame, Shame, Shame, performed by the band Looby, was inspired by the airline.