I’m not quite sure what to make of today’s post, to be honest, but I thought the story was worth sharing.
According to Britain’s Daily Mail, a flight attendent for British Airways, one Mr. Frank Duckworth, has recently won a lawsuit he brought against his employer. The flight attendent had been employed by the airline for more than 20 years, and in the fall of 2010 he ate a mushroom risotto while working a flight from London to Las Vegas. The risotto aggravated his celiac disease and his diabetes, the lawsuit claimed, and Mr. Duckworth had to spend several days in the hospital before being well enough to fly back to Britain.
Once in Britain, he saw a doctor appointed by British Airways, and was declared unfit to fly (but able to work on the ground). The past 18 months have been a back and forth of overturned rulings, during which Mr. Duckworth only recently been granted the right to resume flying. Hence, the lawsuit, in which he was awarded £8500 (appx $13,200) ‘in respect of injury to feelings’ and in lost wages.
The Daily Mail quotes Mr. Duckworth as saying, “I believe I was being pushed out and forced to leave British Airways and from a job which I’ve done well and enjoyed for over 20 years,” and writes that the judge said airline staff had not moved quickly enough to get Mr. Duckworth back in the air. The airline is still not providing gluten-free meals and it is unclear from the article whether or not Mr. Duckworth will resume flying longer flights at all.
So, there are a lot of questions here, but I’m curious what you think. Certainly here in America celiac disease is covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act and so a company would be expected to make accommodations. And certainly most airlines will provide a gluten-free meal for customers on long flights — so should British Airways have provided gluten-free meals for their employee? Or should he have been responsible for providing his own meal (but allowed to store it on board the plane)?
If you work in an industry where your access to food is limited (perhaps you work long shifts in a hospital, or you are a teacher who only has access to the school cafeteria, or you are a business consultant and you are often at the behest of your clients), what do you do to keep yourself safe at mealtime? What accommodations do you feel are fair to expect of an employer?