Vueling Fined €30,000 For Discriminatory Dress Code For Female Cabin Crew Staff

Government authorities in the region of Catalonia have hit budget airline Vueling with a €30,000 fine for violating the region’s labour code in relation to gender discrimination.

Following an equality complaint by Stavla, a labour union that represents Vueling cabin crew staff, the airline has come under fire for its discriminatory dress code policies, which apply solely to its female employees.

Vueling Aircraft
Vueling’s strict uniform and appearance policy was only applicable to female employees. © Javier Rodríguez

Strict Policies That Apply To Female Employees Only

Included in Vueling’s strict dress code policies for its female cabin crew are:

  • Foundation closely matching skin tone
  • Exclusively black eyeliner and mascara
  • High heels between 2–3 inches in height

In addition to the above rules, the airline has also imposed a ban on “artificial-looking or excessively long” eyelash extensions, eyeshadow that is not light grey or light brown and any lipstick that is not considered “discreet”.

Male staff members, however, are reported not to be subjected to comparable rules but are simply required to maintain a” clean and neat appearance” with no specific rules on footwear. In addition, it has not been reported as to whether the airline or the staff members themselves would be responsible for bearing the costs of the required cosmetics and footwear.

Vueling Employees
Vueling plans to review its style guide following criticism of its discriminatory policy. © Vueling

Working To Resolve The Situation

Vueling, owned by International Airlines Group (IAG), the parent company of British Airways, Iberia, and Aer Lingus, has stated that it will work with the union to address concerns and that it may appeal the ruling.

It has been reported that the €30,000 fine may be removed if the airline updates its policy. Whilst the fine may not have a detrimental impact on the airline from a financial perspective, the fine is significant in that it is the first time that a government agency in Spain has sanctioned a proposal regarding the appearance expectations imposed by an airline on its employees.

In response to criticism of its restrictive uniform and appearance policy, Vueling also noted that its policy was formulated with input from the union representing its flight attendants. The source(s) of the complaint has not been revealed by the union issuing the fine. On the matter, the airline stated:

“We always consider the concerns of our stakeholders and together analyse their implementation. The company’s aim is to ensure their comfort and safety in any environment. In fact, the style guide was drafted with the approval of the representatives of the crew members”.

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Wizz Air recently launched its “She Can Fly” initiative to help budding female pilots. © Wizz Air

Equality And Diversity In Aviation

The latest news disappointingly coincides with the same month during which International Women’s Day is celebrated.

Fortunately, numerous airlines worldwide have launched/are continuing to launch initiatives to aid women in entering and/or progressing in a carrier in aviation and to promote greater gender equality and representation within the sector.

Earlier this month, Hungarian airline Wizz Air launched its “She Can Fly” programme as a part of its Pilot Academy initiative. The airline aims to support future female pilots by vastly reducing training fees and facilitating greater accessibility for women to kick-start a career in what is primarily and sadly still a male-dominated field.

What are your thoughts on Vueling’s dress code policy? Do you think the fine is sufficient? Let us know in the comments.

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Rachel Dunster
Rachel Dunster
Aviation Reporter