An Australian airline has fired a male cabin crew supervisor for sexually harassing fellow crewmembers, including sharing naked and sexually explicit photos of a female work colleague, a flight attendant he had previously been in a relationship with.
The Fair Work Commission (FWC) found that the airline had a valid reason to fire the senior cabin crew supervisor. The FWC dismissed the supervisor’s claim for unfair dismissal. It suppressed the name of the airline and the people concerned.
The Perth-based supervisor, who had worked for the airline since January 2011 and served as a cabin crew supervisor since June 2014, was sacked in February this year. His sexual harassment of other cabin crew included showing them naked photos and videos.
He was also accused of making “inappropriate comments of a sexual nature” to or within hearing of other cabin crew and making unwanted sexual advances to some of them.
In his oral evidence to the FWC, the supervisor described himself as a “gentleman” who treated his female co-workers with “courtesy”, “dignity” and “respect”. He denied showing nude and compromising photos to his colleagues and claimed he was offended when the flight attendant had sent him the material during their relationship.
A female cabin crew member referred only as Witness A gave evidence that a day after having sex with the supervisor for the first time, the supervisor had said loudly on an aerobridge, in the company of about six other crewmembers: “I hope you are clean”.
Witness A said the supervisor made no attempt to moderate the tone or volume of his voice, but instead spoke loudly enough for other crew to hear.
“I felt that he was referring to my sexual health and was embarrassed and humiliated that he said this in front of other crew members.”
There was confusion about the number of times Witness A and the supervisor had sex. The supervisor said it was eight times; Witness A said it was closer to 80 times.
Another female crewmember, referred to as Witness D, gave evidence that on a flight from Perth to Sydney on 31 July 2015, she asked the supervisor in the galley what he was doing on the weekend. The supervisor’s response was, “I am doing you on the weekend” – which she took as a reference to the supervisor having sex with her on the weekend.
Witness D said the supervisor’s comment was unwelcome, inappropriate, offensive, disrespectful and that she was shocked that he would make such a comment in the presence of other cabin crew.
Yet another female flight attendant described an unpleasant incident that took place when she was welcoming passengers aboard a flight. The supervisor, who was standing behind her, started whispering the following comments:
“She’s got great tits”;
“I would f**k her”;
“She’ll be great in bed; and
The supervisor denied the accusations when he appealed against the airline’s decision to sack him. He claimed to be a “victim” of the company’s workplace culture.
FWC Commissioner Cloghan found the supervisor’s arguments unconvincing. He dismissed the supervisor’s appeal, saying he was satisfied the man’s dismissal was not harsh, unjust or unreasonable.
The full FWC decision can be read on: https://www.fwc.gov.au/documents/decisionssigned/html/2016fwc7077.htm
Written by Peter Needham