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Iberia drops pregnancy test requirement for new employees

Iberia has dropped a requirement for potential employees to take pregnancy tests after being sued for discrimination by a Spanish court.12 Jul 2017

The pregnancy test was a routine part of a medical examination for potential female recruits. It will now be dropped, the airline said (link in Spanish).

Maria Teresa Garcia Menéndez, Iberia's workplace health and safety officer, said: "We will no longer include a pregnancy test in the medical examination for new hires."

"We will continue to use all necessary means to ensure the safety and rights of pregnant employees, as we have always done. This is an exemplary company when it comes to hiring women," she said.

Iberia, which is part of the International Airlines Group, said the test has never been used to discriminate in hiring, but was to ensure that pregnant women were not put at risk by being asked to perform tasks that could harm them, such as handling luggage.

The regional authorities on Spain’s Balearic Islands fined Iberia €25,000 for demanding the test, El Pais reported this week.

The regional labour court said that the practice constituted a serious violation of labour law on the basis of discrimination, El Pais reported.

Sources told the newspaper that they became aware of the tests last year during a campaign against discrimination in the workplace.

Inspectors found that Iberia was setting out criteria for hiring personnel, and that these were passed to an external recruitment firm. That recruitment firm was in charge of interviewing candidates and requesting the pregnancy tests, El Pais said.

Other medical tests were also required, for both male and female candidates, it said.

In its statement, Iberia said that women make up 38% of its total staff and that childcare policies, along with reduced working hours, help women's access to work.

The airline also said that it will not appeal the Spanish court's fine.

Employment expert Linda Jones of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind, said: "It's hardly surprising that the Spanish court has condemned this practice as discriminatory. It's directly discriminatory in that women are being required to undergo a medical test that isn't required of men and then if Iberia made recruitment decisions based on the outcome of the tests, that of course would also be discriminatory."

"Iberia have sought to justify the tests on health and safety grounds but the correct approach to health and safety at work for pregnant women is to carry out workplace assessments once an employee has notified the employer of her pregnancy, not to apply a compulsory pregnancy test at the point of recruitment," Jones said.