Legislation aviation

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Diaz v. Pan American World Airways

Diaz v. Pan American World Airways is a classic example of a variety of court cases closely related to aviation regulations. Furthermore, it demonstrates the prevalence of sex segregation practices that are contrary to occupational qualifications in the field of aviation. Celio Diaz, the complainant in "Diaz v. Pan American Airways Inc.," applied for a job as a flight cabin attendant with Pan American Airways. Despite being eligible for the role, his application was turned down on the grounds that the firm only employed female flight attendants. The corporation said that their policy only allowed women to be hired as flight attendants. Due to the company’s action, Diaz filed a case with the EEOC citing the company’s failure to comply with Title VII since the company discriminated him based on his gender. Pan American Airways, on the other hand, claimed that gender is an important factor in the company’s take towards occupational qualification and must be considered in employ recruitment. Moreover, they defended their action by claiming that women perform better in non-technical duties compared to men hence are suited with roles like serving of guests.


According to Pan Am, their move to deny Diaz chance to serve as a cabin flight attendant was non-discriminatory since they were following their business policies. According to Melvin & Katz (2015), Pan Am based their defense on business necessity thereby providing desperate claims to prove the necessity of their action against Diaz. Business necessity gives room to practice discrimination in various aspects of business operations even if the protected class is adversely affected by the actions. The trial court, however, rejected Pan Am’s argument of basing discriminatory actions on business necessity and ruled in favor of Diaz. The court ruled that Pan Am’s arguments were based on narrow interpretation of business necessity and provisions for gender discrimination. Pan Am, on the other hand, was unable to prove that Diaz did not have the necessary skills needed for the flight attendant role. The case of Diaz v. Pan Am raised a number of questions on the interaction a between employers and workers in the aviation industry. Although little legislative history illuminates the meaning of sex, the Supreme Court equates it with gender. The “because of sex” provisions protect individuals of both genders (Koffie-Lart & Tyson, 2005). Because the case between Diaz and Pan American Airways was a legal conflict that specifically addressed equal employment opportunity, Diaz fate had to be determined to help resolve other cases of discrimination of job seekers or employees based their gender or sexual orientation other than professional and academic qualifications.

Inclusive Recruitment Policies in the Aviation Industry

In a situation where an individuals’ sexual orientation or gender does not interfere with his or her capability of performing his or her job, the public should have to deal with being unhappy for the sake of equality. Both the aviation companies and members of the public have to stop the cases of job discrimination based on gender since an individual’s capability and impact on an organization’s attainment of business goals are not strictly based on gender (Koffie-Lart & Tyson, 2005). However, the United States Constitution does give a provision for discrimination of job seekers based on their gender or race but rather on academic and professional qualifications and the ability to perform the assigned duties diligently.

Impact on Hiring Policies in the Aviation Industry

Cavico & Mujtaba (2016) argues that the court ruling in favor of Diaz in “Diaz v. Pan American Airways Inc.” led to the emergency of new policies in the aviation industry that were inclusive in terms of gender roles Before the Pan Am lost the case, many other airlines gave priority to ladies when assign cabin flight attendant roles. Men who had similar qualifications were denied the chance of serving as flight attendants, claiming that it was in the best interest of their businesses. Currently, the aviation industry has adopted inclusive recruitment policies that tend to accept employees regardless of their gender. Moreover, it provides a basis for the society to view both men and women as equally capable of undertaking the roles they are interested and qualified in. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 advocates for provision of equal employment opportunities to all citizens regardless of their gender. It provides for a better understanding of the BFOQ (Bonafide Occupational Qualification) which have been commonly abused by various companies in the aviation industry, Pan American Airways Inc. being an example.

Fifth Circuit Court Ruling

The Fifth Circuit Court revealed that, despite claims by Pan American Airways, their decision was based on business necessity, hiring Diaz or any other male employee as a flight attendant would neither affect the normal operations of the company nor adversely affect their business performance. Moreover, hiring Diaz as a flight attendant would not in any way interfere with the company’s ability to provide a safe and conducive environment for their customers and employees. Thus, it brought to an end the adoption of discriminatory hiring policies by most airline companies.

Effective Hiring Policies for Airline Companies

Since effective hiring policies are based on the maximization of an individual’s job fit, more focus should be on his/her skills, knowledge, and other abilities that can help in carrying out the assigned tasks. Airline companies should not consider gender or any other factor that is irrelevant to the position and roles when hiring employees. Although the federal antidiscrimination statues provide for employee screening based on their gender, religion, or nation of origin under circumstances when it is necessary for an organization to do so and therefore cannot be avoided, there are considerations that must be made on the bonafide occupational qualification. However, the statute also limits the conditions under which companies can discriminate against their employees when assigning duties or recruiting them for various positions. For instance, discrimination based on sex or gender is to some extent reasonable for the normal operations of a business.


The lawsuit of Diaz v. Pan American Airways Inc. is a classic example of the various discriminations that occur in the aviation industry. Many job seekers, especially male ones, were denied the chance to operate as cabin flight attendants based on their gender. Although companies like Pan American Airways Inc. argue that their decisions to decline applications of qualified male attendants are based on business necessity, the Fifth Circuit Court found out that there were no adverse effects that hiring male flight attendants like Diaz could subject their company operations or customers to. Based on the provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, airline companies should adopt effective hiring policies that would ensure employees are hired based on their qualifications and experience rather than their gender, race, or other factors that may not add value to the company’s productivity.


Cavico, F. J., & Mujtaba, B. G. (2016). The Bona Fide Occupational Qualification (BFOQ) Defense in Employment Discrimination: A Narrow and Limited Justification Exception. Journal of Business Studies Quarterly, 7(4), 15.

Koffie-Lart, D., & Tyson, C. J. (2005). Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Geo. J. Gender & L., 6, 615.

Melvin, S. P., & Katz, M. A. (2015). The legal environment of business: A managerial approach: Theory to practice (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

November 23, 2022


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