Grounded for being too tall

Jul 29 2005 by Brian Amble Print This Article

A British graduate who had dreamt of being an air traffic controller since the age of 13 lost his place on the National Air Traffic Services (Nats) training course after his bosses decided that at 6ft 10in (2m 8cm), he was too tall to fit under the desks in the air traffic control center.

Now Ben Sargeaunt-Thomson has taken NATS to an employment tribunal claiming indirect sexual discrimination on the grounds that only a man could reach his height.

"If I work in an office, then modifications would have to be made but I do not believe my height should stop me from doing things," he said.

"During the assessments it became apparent my legs were too long to fit under the control centre's work stations. I tried to position the chair differently but there was not enough legroom for me to sit comfortably."

"Bearing in mind that men are generally taller than women, this is indirectly discriminating against men."

But NATS cited a health and safety assessment that claimed it would be too dangerous for him to fit his 38in legs under the desks.

The tribunal has reserved its judgment. Meanwhile, Ben has since been given a trainee position with Eurocontrol in Luxembourg - where the desks are height adjustable.