This famous airline made female job candidates take pregnancy tests

Chris Matyszczyk

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. ​​​
Every time you think the world is moving forward, you wake up.

And there you find a place that barely seems to have changed at all.

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My evidence -- today, at least -- is the airline that got caught demanding that female job applicants take a pregnancy test.

Airline rankings according to ACSI:

All hail, Iberia.

Spain's national carrier, now part of the IAG Group, was upbraided for the practice by authorities in the Balearic Islands.

The airline was fined 25,000 Euros ($29,000) for blatant discrimination. It seems this hiring practice was de rigueur at Iberia nationwide.

As El Pas reports, Iberia had a splendid argument for this practice.

It said that it only made women take the tests in order to "avoid assigning them a task that would put their pregnancy at risk."

Because, of course, women can't make such decisions for themselves. Because, of course, they need this highly benevolent airline to care so deeply for them.

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You'll be stunned to hear that men weren't asked whether they intended to become fathers during the interview process.

I contacted Iberia to ask how it felt. It offered me this: "The test was part of the regular medical examination prior to start working at the company, and after they have passed the selection process. The candidates were informed. Some tasks in this sector are not supposed to be done by pregnant women such us luggage handling."

Ah. Oh. Oh, please.

The airline has been performing excitable damage control on its own website. It claims it's never actually turned a woman down for a job because of her pregnancy.

Some might mutter: "If that was true, why bother with the tests in the first place?"

The airline insisted this was all entirely innocent and rational.

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"In the last year, of the six pregnant women that were candidates to work at the airport five were hired and only one was not because she failed the driving test needed to work at the tarmac," a spokesman told me.

Oddly, Iberia has now generously decided to stop making candidates take pregnancy tests.

Might some applicants, though, still fear that an interviewer will ask them directly whether they're pregnant?

Iberia's slogan is: "And tomorrow, can you imagine?"

I fear I can.

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