Spanish airline Iberia has decided to drop its obligatory pregnancy test for job applicants, after it received a hefty fine of €25,000.
The airline was fined by the regional government for sexism and unfair treatment towards potential female employees. The company’s demand is a serious breach of labour laws, and a clear discrimination against female employees.
Under Spanish law, women only have to notify their employers of pregnancies after they have been officially employed. They cannot be penalised or fired if they are expecting.
The sanction comes at a time when Spanish authorities are tackling sexist hiring practices across the country.
The discovery was made by authorities in Spain’s Balearic Islands, when inspectors visited the airline as a part of a campaign combating workplace discrimination. They found that Iberia made a list of requirements which were forwarded onto Randstad, a recruitment agency.
Randstad was responsible for conducting interviews, and requested applicants to take a pregnancy test along with a standard medical check-up.
The Work, Trade and Industry Secretary for the Balearic Islands Government, Iago Negueruela, told Canalsur Radio that Iberia was guilty of a "very grave infraction". The Secretary went on to say that male applicants were not being asked if they were going to be fathers, therefore female applicants should be treated the same.
The airline says they have never rejected an applicant for being pregnant, and the only reason they issued the test was to “avoid assigning them a task that would put their pregnancy at risk”, according to their statement to El Pais.
There was public outcry on social media after the news regarding Iberia Airlines was shared, with one person tweeting, "Absolutely scandalous!", with a link to the report.
“It’s not controversial, it's discrimination, pure and simple. Iberia knew it was illegal, yet they did it anyway,” wrote another on Twitter (translated from Spanish below).
Absolutely scandalous! https://t.co/8F5LC1cnbJ— James Sparks (@TheJamesSparks) July 11, 2017
Puntos suspensivos a los clichés liberales, que a pesar de ser falacias, han calado muy hondo en la gente por simplistas, y desespera...— Juanan Serrano (@jasjlion) July 10, 2017
Iberia is owned by the International Airlines Group (IAG), which also owns Aer Lingus and British Airways, and is the first time the company had to pay a penalty for workers' discrimination.
The sanction comes at a time when Spanish authorities are combating sexist hiring practices across the country.
A restaurant in Galacia, Spain came under fire last year for posting a job advertisement asking for a female waitress. The job description outlined that they wanted someone “hard-working, responsible, pretty and a little bit slutty”, according to Spanish newspaper Diario de Mallorca.
Iberia Airlines can apply to appeal the decision with the regional labour department. If the appeal is rejected, they will have to take the dispute to the courts.