SC Declares Void CBA Proviso Setting Lower Mandatory Retirement Age for Female Cabin Attendants
On January 10, 2023, the Supreme Court En Banc unanimously declared unconstitutional Section 144(A) of the 2000-2005 Collective Bargaining Agreement between Philippine Airlines, Inc. and the Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines. Section 144(A) of the Agreement, pegging the compulsory retirement age of female cabin attendants at 55 years old and male cabin attendants at 60 years old, was deemed void for lack of basis, discriminating against women, and being contrary to laws, international convention, and public policy.
In finding merit in the January 11, 2019 Petition filed by female cabin attendants of Philippine Airlines, Inc. in G.R. No. 243259 (Halagueña, et al. v. Philippine Airlines Inc.), the Court, speaking through Senior Associate Justice Marvic Mario Victor F. Leonen, emphasized the fundamental equality of women and men before the law which is enshrined and guaranteed by the Constitution, the Labor Code, the Magna Carta of Women, and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women.
The Court held that considering the constitutional guarantee of protection to labor and security of tenure, respondent Philippine Airlines Inc. failed to provide a reasonable basis for differentiating compulsory retirement age based on sex. It found insufficient proof to support the conclusion that female cabin attendants between 55 to 59 years old did not have the “necessary strength to open emergency doors, the agility to attend to passengers in cramped working conditions, and the stamina to withstand grueling flight schedules” unlike their male counterparts.
The Court ruled that petitioners were denied employment opportunity at an age “not young enough to seek for a new job but not old enough to be considered retired.” This deprived them of benefits attached to employment, such as income and medical benefits, five years earlier than their male counterpart, without any factual basis. Aside from being repugnant to the Constitution, laws, and international convention, the Court found that the compulsory retirement provision in Section 144(A) of the Agreement was not voluntarily agreed upon by petitioners.
Associate Justice Amy C. Lazaro-Javier concurred in the opinion. Associate Justices Jhosep Y. Lopez and Japar B. Dimaampao took no part, while Associate Justice Ramon Paul L. Hernando was on wellness leave.
The Supreme Court Public Information Office will upload the decision to the Supreme Court website once it receives an official copy from the Office of the Clerk of Court En Banc.