A flight attendant for Malaysia Airlines who was fired for being 1-kilogram overweight has lost her unfair dismissal case in court.
Ina Meliesa Hassim worked for the airline for 25 years. When her contract was terminated in 2017, she was 160 cm tall and weighed 61.7 kg, while her maximum permitted weight should be 61 kg. Together with a few other flight attendants, Hassim was fired for failing to "achieve their ideal weight as per the company's grooming manual".
Under the company's rules, the cabin crew are required to achieve a Body Mass Index (BMI) within the 'healthy' range. BMI is a method of calculating people’s "optimum" weight as determined by their height. It was first created in the 1800s by a Belgian mathematician Adolphe Quetelet and by the 1990s it was adopted by governments worldwide. There are four categories in the BMI: underweight, healthy, overweight and obese.
However, many researchers say that the BMI does not take into account overall body composition, muscle mass, bone density, and racial and sex differences.
During the court hearing, Hassim's lawyers argued that other international airlines do not use the BMI and do not face safety risks in relation to that. They also said that being 1 kg 'overweight' could not prevent Hassim from successfully performing her duties. But the court ruled in favour of the airline carrier, saying that the company has the right to determine its own weight management policy.
Malaysia Airlines said that Hassim and her other colleagues who were also fired had been given enough opportunities to achieve the required weight. They also claimed that Hassim had not attended several official weigh-in's.