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Tall story or not, they were sent packing.

Two men over six feet tall are claiming they were discriminated against by a Midland packing firm because they were too tall.

Rugby player Mr Lincoln Dodd, who stands at 6ft 7in, and Mr Barry Sele, 6ft 2in, have told an industrial tribunal that they believed they were turned away from positions as chicken packers at Sun Valley Foods in Hereford because of the company's "heighti st" policy.

The men are claiming sexual discrimination against the American-owned company.

But the firm has claimed that tall people were more likely to damage their spines doing the job and they were preoccupied with the welfare of their staff.

Mr Sele, aged 21, told the tribunal in Hereford that he was "devastated" at being rejected for the job.

He said that during a pre-employment medical, the firm's nurse told him he had no chance of a job because he was too tall.

"I was really amazed. She said they had just brought in new guidelines saying they were not allowing people of a certain height," he said.

"I was not measured apart from my height. Then she just asked me if I wanted to be walked off the premises."

The tribunal heard that Sun Valley, owned by US multinational Cargill, automatically rejected people over 6ft 5in and referred anyone between 6ft 3in and 6ft 5in to its occupational health centre.

But both men told the hearing they had previously worked at the plant in Hereford without any difficulties.

Yesterday, Mr Carl Shutt, of the Citizens' Advice Bureau, representing the claimants, told the tribunal: "At the time Mr Sele and Mr Dodd applied for employment the respondent did operate an absolute bar which clearly referred to height."

Mr Phil Heinricy, the 6ft 8ins founder of the Tall Persons Club, said the policy blatantly discriminated against men.

"They would be rejected to a much greater extent, perhaps 40 to 80 times as many," he said.

Ms Audrey Williams, of Sun Valley, whose customers include Tesco and McDonald's, denied the company had a "heightist" policy.

Later, a spokesman for Sun Valley said: "If you are more than 6ft 5in it is likely you will damage yourself doing the job."

Before the two-day hearing, Mr Sele said his height was a problem when he was growing up.

"When I was 11 or 12 I even asked my mum and dad if I could have an operation to stop me growing," he said.

Tribunal chairman Mr George Dyson adjourned the hearing until today.

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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 12, 1998
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