A Sikh pilot has alleged that Dubai’s Emirates Airline discriminated against him during the recruitment process due to him wearing a turban, it was reported.
The unnamed pilot, an Indian national, claimed to IBN Live that he was disqualified from the carrier’s interviewing process as he refused to replace the religious headdress with an official pilot’s cap while on duty.
The man, who is said to have more than nine years experience as a pilot, told the newspaper that Emirates informed him that he would not be offered a position if he refused to wear a pilot’s hat.
"If they have any policy against turbaned Sikhs they should come forward and it should be mentioned that turbaned Sikhs should not apply. I applied, I got a call, was about to leave and just for my satisfaction wanted to know if there was a certain bias and to my shock got to know that there was a bias that is currently going on. It is uncalled for, unheard of. If you do fulfill the requirements, you should be taken on merit rather than on your religious belief or the way you look," the pilot reportedly told the newspaper.
As part of observing their religion, Sikh men do not cut their hair and wear it inside a turban, also known as a dastar.
"All employees of the airline must adhere to the uniform guidelines of their role – for pilots, this includes wearing a hat while on duty. We currently have many Sikh pilots who work for us and follow the uniform policy," an Emirates Spokesperson told Arabian Business. "Emirates is a global, multicultural company, employing more than 50,000 people from 163 countries. The diversity of our workforce is one foundation of our success. The range of nationalities, cultures, religious and ethnic backgrounds enriches our company by bringing new ideas and thinking styles, which lead to a better run, more successful organisation."
Earlier this year, a male Virgin Australia flight attendant won an appeal against unfair dismissal for wearing long hair by arguing he had a medically diagnosed body image disorder.
The employee was sacked in October 2011 for disobeying the airline’s style guide, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
David Taleski had been in a battle with Virgin, including involving CEO John Borghetti, over his haircut for 15 months before being sacked.