A British Airways pilot who was banned from flying for refusing to wear a mask during the Covid pandemic has failed in his attempt to sue the airline for discrimination after an employment tribunal declared a “fundamental” human right to expect others to wear a face covering. The Telegraph has the story.
Peter Burch tried to claim he was “a sovereign being who has a right to breathe freely” and that he should not be subjected to “arbitrary and pointless” rules.
The experienced senior first officer argued that his stance against wearing a mask was the equivalent to a religious belief and he should be legally protected as a result.
But an employment tribunal ruled it could not qualify as it potentially infringed on the “fundamental” human rights of others who could catch a disease through his refusal to wear a face covering.
As a result his claims of discrimination and harassment against British Airways were dismissed.
The Watford tribunal heard Mr. Burch had worked for the airline since 1996, first as a short-haul flight captain and then as a long-haul senior first officer flying Boeing 747s.
As a result of the pandemic in 2020, British Airways furloughed a number of pilots, who were paid a reduced salary as they were not required to fly, the hearing was told.
After 20 months on reduced pay, Mr. Burch was invited to return to work but had to complete a course which included a training flight in February 2022 to Miami.
However, the night before the flight he had a “major stress reaction” after being sent a copy of the airline’s policy requiring him to wear a mask on board and was “so stressed” he called in sick.
For his next scheduled training duty, Mr. Burch reported to work without a mask, claiming he was “exempt” from wearing one.
This was rejected by his training captain, but when Mr. Burch refused to comply, he was “stood down” and placed on unpaid leave, it was heard.
Not wearing a face mask infringes on other people’s “fundamental” human rights? Good grief. Is this what the great Western tradition of human rights has come to – a “fundamental” right to require those around you to wear an (ineffective) rag over their mouths to ‘protect’ you from germs? This surely cannot stand. It makes a mockery of the concept of human rights and brings them into disrepute.
Worth reading in full.