The EAT has rejected British Airways' appeal against a finding of indirect sex discrimination in its treatment of one of their pilots, Jessica Starmer.

Ms Starmer had requested that 50% of her hours be worked part time. However her request was refused by BA on safety grounds. BA subsequently introduced a policy that its pilots must have completed 2,000 hours in the air before they can be permitted to work part-time. At the time her request was made, Ms Starmer had completed only 1,100 hours. The Tribunal did not accept BA's claim that Ms Starmer was refused her request for flexible working on safety grounds.

The EAT held that there was sufficient evidence upon which the Tribunal had been entitled to reach the conclusion that the 'provision, criterion or practice' was discriminatory and unjustified. The decision has been welcomed by Jenny Watson, Acting Chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission, as "great news for millions of women in Britain juggling their careers with their responsibilities at home, too many of whom are denied from using their talents to the full." It should be noted however, that BA has sought permission to appeal the EAT's decision to the Court of Appeal.

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