Q&A – 25 November 2013

Denied air hostess job

I am a tall well presented woman having applied for a job as an air hostess in a local airline. I know that my aptitude test results were the highest amongst the 20 girls who applied. In the practical I also scored the second highest but was refused employment because my hips are wider than their norms, seemingly because the aircraft aisle would not fit me. Isn’t this discrimination? If that was the case I could have served in the business class? I want to sue. Please guide.
QR, Dar

Every employer is required by the Employment and Labour Relations Act No 6 of 2004 to ensure that he promotes an equal opportunity in employment and strives to eliminate discrimination in the workplace. It is also an offence if an employer will directly or indirectly discriminate employees on the basis of color, nationality, tribe or place of origin race, national extraction, social origin, political opinion, gender, pregnancy, marital status, disability, HIV/AIDS, age or station of life.

However, as an exception to the foregoing rule of thumb, it is not discrimination to distinguish, exclude or prefer any person on the basis of an inherent requirement of a job.

Coming back to your question we are of the view that your situation falls within the exception provided under the law that it shall not be discrimination to distinguish, exclude or prefer any person on the basis of an inherent requirement of a job.

Hence if an aisle is not wide enough for a prospective employee, there are only two options. The first, which you will appreciate is uneconomical, is for the airline manufacturer to increase the size of the aisle. The second option is to decline employment, as the airline has done. You should consult your lawyers who can guide you further.

Plaintiff refuses to be paid outside Court

I am a supplier of various imported items and this business makes me travel outside the country frequently. Upon my arrival in Tanzania in the last few months, I found there was a copy of documents from the Court requiring me to file a defence within 21 days in a case filed against me by one of my customers. I have no problem with paying the customer all his claims only that I was not aware of the claims as the customer was used to communicating with my agents. I am very sorry for him but upon calling him for payment he insisted that we should meet in Court as he cannot accept payment unless the Court allows. Please guide me on how to go about this.
PJ, Dar

Under rules of procedure in civil cases, whenever a suit is filed against you and you do not disputes the claims as a defendant you are allowed to admit the truth of the whole or part of the case. Since you do not dispute the suit filed against you and you are ready to pay, you can give a notice of admission of a case to the customer and file it in Court and apply for the Court for judgment on admission. The Court may upon such application make such order or give such judgment as it thinks fit.

However if you are ready to settle, you can inform your customer about this and he can withdraw the case upon your payment. It seems like your customer thinks that once he has filed a case he cannot withdraw it. That is not true. With the current backlog of cases we have, the Courts are more than willing to expedite settlement of any such cases.

Airline cancellation, big deal missed

I was flying for a very important meeting in South America and the airline cancelled the flight at the last minute. I was forced to take another airline but did not make it on time for the meeting, as a result of which I lost a deal worth a life time. I want to sue the airline for atleast Usd 10M. Please guide.
YU, Dar

Much as we sympathise with you missing a deal of a life time, there are specific international conventions which limit the liability of airlines in such circumstances.

Specifically the Montreal Convention limits the liability for such claims and it is very unlikely that you will be able to claim what you are stating. Tanzania also ratified the Montreal Convention some ten years ago and hence it has full force of the law in Tanzania.

The underlying reason for the convention is to protect airlines from being held liable for unlimited amounts in view of the intense capital nature of the airline business. Otherwise it would make airlines operations even more expensive. We recommend you consult your lawyer.

You can consult your lawyers for further guidance.