A female Qantas pilot claims that male coworkers informed her that she would progress in her career if she colored her hair and wore a push-up bra, and she has launched a lawsuit in Australia’s federal court charging the airline of sexual harassment and discrimination.
First Officer Davida Forshaw, a 23-year veteran of the Australian flag carrier, was recently passed over for advancement to Captain after, according to her, male colleagues were “rude and disrespectful” to her.
In addition to demanding that the airline implement gender-based recruiting quotas in order to enhance the presence of women throughout the company, Forshaw is suing Qantas for monetary damages.
As reported by the Australian, Forshaw claims that she was given a poor performance rating after refusing an inappropriate sexual advance from a male pilot while in Bangkok for a layover.
In one bizarre interaction with a male Captain, Forshaw claims the pilot asked her if she was “one of those ‘O’ women”. When she asked what he meant, the Captain allegedly explained: “Women who are ‘O’ffended at everything”.
And Forshaw reports that in a recent occurrence, a male Captain was surprised to learn that he was co-piloting a flight to Rome with a female pilot.
Forshaw also alleges that in the past, male colleagues forced her to get them coffee during an engineering briefing and that her most recent attempt to become a Captain failed.
Forshaw complained about gender discrimination five times in just three months to Qantas’ human resources department, but the accused colleagues were reinstated to their full duties after the charges were found to be false.
Although Qantas claims it has taken Forshaw’s complaints seriously, some of the charges weren’t made public until after the lawsuit was submitted to a federal court. The airline claims that it has already gotten in touch with Forshaw to ask for more details so that it can look into the situation.
“We took immediate action when Ms. Forshaw made her complaint after being unsuccessful in a module required to be promoted to a captain,” a spokesperson for Qantas said. “The employees she accused of discrimination or misconduct were stood down from work while we investigated. The claims of discrimination were not substantiated.”
Only 10 female pilots, according to the company, have applied for Captain since 2019. Only Forshaw failed to receive the promotion out of the ten pilots.