Court Decision on Jetstar’s Two-Wheelchair Policy a Major Blow - Disability Group
17 January 2012 at 10:58 am
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People with Disability Australia (PWD) is calling for changes to Australia’s anti-discrimination laws following the recent Federal Court’s decision, which it says has left Jetstar’s discriminatory two wheelchair policy intact.
PWD says Sheila King, a passenger with disability, who took the court action has been left with $20,000 to pay in court costs.
In 2008, Jetstar stopped King, who uses a wheelchair, from accessing a flight because the flight already had two passengers that required wheelchair assistance. King told the court she was forced to rebook on another airline at greater cost as there were no other Jetstar flights to her destination.
The Federal Court decision accepted that Jetstar had discriminated against King, but ruled that Jetstar would have experienced ‘unjustifiable hardship’ if it had not discriminated against her.
“This decision is a major blow against the rights of people with disability. PWD has fully supported Sheila King’s action from the start and eagerly awaited an outcome that would end Jetstar’s second class treatment of people with disability,” the Executive Director of PWD, Therese Sands said.
“The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) places a strong onus on individuals with disability to make discrimination complaints to achieve systemic change. However, it is unacceptable that individuals with disability must also carry the risks if a DDA complaint goes to Court,” Sands said.
“For Ms King this means that she must bear the costs of Jetstar’s discriminatory treatment and accept that a major budget airline can retain a policy that is unjust to people with disability.”
“The current Australian Government process for reform of anti-discrimination laws must include finding mechanisms to achieve systemic change without the need for individuals with disability to bear the responsibility for this change,” Sands said.
PWD says it commends Sheila King for her long battle with Jetstar, a battle which was not for personal gain, but to achieve a change in Jetstar policy for the benefit of all passengers who use wheelchairs.