Megan Cox, a 22-year old British woman was denied her “dream job” with the Dubai-based airline Emirates, after her medical history revealed that she had suffered from depression. Her job with Emirates airlines was all but assured as of last month until Miss Cox received an e-mail from the airline company withdrawing their original offer as a cabin crew member. Miss Cox was shocked at the withdrawal of her job after a promising opening day.
“I read horror stories online about them rejecting people.” said Miss Cox. Even with the negative reviews of the company’s employment practices, Miss Cox said she drudged on, agreeing to an all encompassing medical history inquiry.
Her medical records revealed that she had suffered from a stint of depression back in 2012 after what she said was a “horrific year.”
“Any normal person who had been through what I did would suffer in this horrific way.” said Miss Cox.
Still the Dubai-based Emirates withdrew their original job offer following the revelations, and have maintained that their policy is not discriminatory against those with mental illness. Emirates was silent for the first few days following the online debate, but released a statement Saturday explaining their reasoning for why they considered Miss Cox as “unsuitable” for employment.
” The Cabin Crew environment is both physically and mentally demanding with crew regularly experiencing body clock changes and irregular sleeping patterns, which can take a toll on the body. Given our crew are responsible for the safety of hundreds of passengers it is important that all candidates meet the pre-employment conditions…
All applications are reviewed closely by our trained Cabin Crew recruitment team to ensure suitability for this extremely demanding role…”
Emirates continued to say that they would refund Miss Cox’s pre-employment related medical expenses and that they are “sorry” for her disappointment.
Miss Cox retaliated by opening up a Facebook page “Emirates Against Depression”, hoping to bring attention to the issue of mental illness and discrimination. As of Saturday, May 24th, the page has over 1,700 likes.
With various comments mostly in support for Miss Cox’s movement, the Facebook page has become the hub for the debate over mental illness discrimination.
Much like the debate in America, the mental illness debate in the UK is shrouded in a culture of silence and misinformation. Mental illness is often associated with negative stereotypes like that of schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder, characterized as violent, mentally unstable individuals who are dangers to themselves and others.
There are over 300 different “manifestations” of mental illness. According to Medical News Today, mental illness can range from common phobias, to alcoholism, to autism. Much like physical disorders there is a diverse set of circumstances attached to each individual case, and according to Miss Cox’s doctor in a letter to Emirates prior to her withdrawal, Miss Cox “remained fit and well indeed has had no further consultations with us”.
One in four people suffer from some type of mental health problem in their lifetime. Miss Cox says that her brief experience with depression brought on by traumatic life events should not be held above someone’s head for future or even current employment.
Emirates in their statement wished “Ms. Cox all the best for her future endeavours.”
by John Amaruso
Emirates Against Depression