The Hungarian airline Wizz Air was recently fined by the Romanian Anti-Discrimination Council for discriminating against Italian pilots, based in Romania, dismissed at the start of the pandemic. This is not the first time that Wizz Air has been found guilty of discrimination acts in Romania.
Wizz Air has terminated the contracts of a large number of pilots back in April 2020, one Romanian Court later indicated that the company had failed to apply the collective dismissal procedure which was mandatory according to the local legislation. Some of the pilots challenged the illegal dismissals and Wizz Air has been forced by the Romanian court system to reinstate four pilots and ten cabin crew.
Read more PRESS RELEASE
However, the dismissed pilots, including FPU Romania’s members, considered that the terminations were not only unlawful but also discriminatory based on the percentage of Italian pilots that were selected. Consequently, a complaint was filed to the Romanian Anti-Discrimination Council in March 2021 by a group of pilots, requesting an investigation into the allegations and supporting the claim with evidence, which FPU Romania has seen.
Although the Council’s decision can not overturn the termination of the contract for those that have not challenged it in 2020, the present verdict is of great relief and moral support for the pilots who were let go in such a scandalous manner.
“Wizz Air has an extremely disturbing track record of discrimination charges in Romania, the airline being convicted also for the infringement of the right to work and harassment. This time the distinction was applied using a specific criterion that produced personal and legal consequences, affecting the lives of so many of our colleagues. We always welcome these decisions but they must be accompanied by a fine proportional to the company’s turnover”, says Mircea Constantin, Head of Representation for the Flight Personnel Union Romania.
The Council (CNCD) found that Wizz Air did not prove that the restructuring and the termination of employment contracts were done in an objective manner, nor were transparent criteria established leading to a presumption of non-discrimination of those selected to be dismissed. Law no. 106/2017 stipulates that workers from the European Union and their family members benefit from protection against any form of discrimination based on citizenship or nationality, according to the provisions of Government Ordinance no. 137/2000 on the prevention and punishment of all forms of discrimination.
The Romanian Supreme Court has already confirmed four discrimination charges during the last three years, with the latest judgment dating to June 2022. Also, this decision could be appealed by Wizz Air.