Five British Airways cabin crew have accused the airline of discrimination over the withdrawal of travel concessions during strikes two years ago.
The allegation of indirect racial discrimination is being heard at an employment tribunal, where the air stewards are seeking compensation of up to £8,000 each.
The five claimants at the tribunal are from France, Italy, Spain and Scotland.
A total of 30 staff are seeking redress from BA because they live outside England and relied on discounted BA fares in order to commute into and out of Heathrow, the Guardian reported.
The lawyer representing the cabin crew said that as well as seeking compensation, the staff wanted to ensure that no travel ban was imposed in the future.
Alison Humphry, the claimants’ solicitor, told the newspaper: “Our argument is that the blanket withdrawal of the staff travel concessions was a disproportionately large stick with which to beat those particular workers who suffered particular detriment because of their reliance on the concessions to get to work.”
The claimants’ legal team argues that there were less discriminatory ways in which BA could have implemented the ban.
“These employees had been allowed to establish their domestic lives within their country of nationality and the withdrawal of concessions meant that suddenly, for the foreseeable future, their journeys to work would be extremely expensive and inconvenient,” Humphry said.
Some cabin crew lost about £2,000 in buying full-price BA tickets to get to and from work while the travel ban was in place, Humphry said.
Strikes by crew members cost the airline £150 million over 22 days of walkouts in 2010.
The settlement of the dispute last summer included the return of the staff travel perks, but not the reversal of the reductions in onboard crew levels that triggered the dispute. More than 6,500 crew backed the deal. The tribunal continues this week.
A BA spokesman said: “We are resisting the claims being made against the airline.”