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Sacked for sporting a ‘Maharaja’ moustache

I have just returned from a trip to India and can share with you some of the interesting things I noticed whilst I was there about employment-related matters. The first relates to a claim of discrimination… for having a ‘Maharaja’ moustache.

Joynath Victor De, a flight steward with Air India, was compulsorily retired from service for refusing to shave off his moustache. He joined Air India in 1968 as a flight steward. In 1996 the rules allowing stewards to sport moustaches were changed and because he refused to shave off the offending moustache, he was grounded with reduced pay. A complaint to the bench of the Calcutta High Court saw him flying again with his moustache intact. But then the authorities decided to get rid of him through compulsory retirement and De challenged his employers once again. This time however, a division Bench upheld Air India’s decision.

It seems that facial hair can be an occupational hazard – at least in India!


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