Flight attendant fired over bra selfie in plane toilet files appeal

Alice Yan, South China Morning Post

Posted at May 13 2022 08:05 AM | Updated as of May 13 2022 11:05 AM

A former flight attendant of China Southern Airlines who was sacked for taking a selfie in her bra in a plane toilet and posting it online has appealed to a provincial high court for a review of her case.

The woman, surnamed Guo, took a lingerie selfie in the toilet while the flight was delayed on the tarmac on October 12, 2019, Hubei-based news site Jiupai News reported.

The plane was delayed due to flight control issues and there were no passengers on board at the time.

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Guo shared the picture on WeChat, with the caption: "I feel like wearing nothing. It's super comfortable. After having worn this brand of bra for a long time, my breast size has increased."

However, 10 minutes later Guo deleted the post and picture, that were intended to help a friend promote a lingerie brand.

China Southern Airlines fired her one month later for violating the company's rules by posting an "inelegant picture" on social media during work hours and this had had a negative impact on the company.

In February this year, the Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court delivered a final verdict in the case that the firing is legal.

Guo, who has 15 years of experience and was a chief attendant at the time has now successfully appealed to the Guangdong High People's Court to review the case.

She initially took the airline to the Guangzhou Arbitration Commission in 2020. The panel ruled that the firing was illegal and ordered the company to pay Guo her salary for the period from November, 2019 to July, 2020.

The airline then took the case to the Baiyun District People's Court in Guangzhou, arguing that while the flight was delayed, the cabin crew were not entitled to take a break, a key point in the case.

However, the court agreed with the initial arbitration commission panel decision and said that while Guo's behaviour was inappropriate, it was not serious enough to justify her sacking.

The court ruled that Guo took the picture during a break period and that there was no evidence her actions had affected aircraft safety.

The court added that soon after Guo posted the picture, she deleted it and there was no evidence that her selfie had been widely circulated or caused economic loss for the airline. The court found that the company had illegally fired her.

China Southern Airlines then appealed to the Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court which reversed the two earlier decisions and ruled that Guo had mistakenly assumed she was on a break and took the selfie to market the bra, in violation of her employment contract.

"Her bra selfie in a plane's toilet violated the code of conduct for flight attendants and damaged public order," the court said in its final verdict.

"Her behaviour has breached cabin crew safety responsibilities, therefore it is legal for China Southern Airlines to fire her."

Speaking after this verdict Guo said: "I don't understand why the result changed. No one knows what I have experienced. I feel helpless."

She said after her case was picked up in the media and sensationalised, internet users had attacked her with "unfriendly and exaggerated" comments about her character.

"Even if I am threatened with online violence, I must make my voice heard," Guo stressed.

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