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Qantas must pay $33,731 over booze haul sacking

December 6, 2016 Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

egtmedia59A veteran Qantas flight attendant was searched at the end of a domestic flight and found to be carrying a can and a bottle of beer in his jacket, a 50ml bottle of gin in his bag and two 50ml bottles of vodka in his trouser pockets, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) has heard.

Qantas fired the 50-year-old flight attendant after finding the alcohol, the property of Qantas, during a random search of the crew following a flight from Perth to Sydney on 14 February 2016.

There are different versions of what was found and the issues around the search, but it was not denied that some alcohol was found. The attendant, who had worked for Qantas for 28 years, admitted to removing the beer from the flight.

The FWC noted that the attendant initially said that the beer and the gin “were inadvertently pocketed by him as a result of serving passengers.

“He also speculated that the gin may have gotten into his bag from a hotel mini bar the day before the flight. In his letter of 22 March, the Applicant admitted that he had deliberately taken the two beers from the ice draw. He continued to assert that the vodka was inadvertently in his pocket. No explanation was provided for the gin. The first explanation appears to have been withdrawn.”

Qantas said it sacked the attendant for breaching its Standards of Conduct Policy, “that is, removing the alcohol and misleading in the investigation as to how he came to have possession of the alcohol”.

The attendant argued that his dismissal was disproportionate to the offence and was, in the circumstances, harsh, unjust or unreasonable.

FWC Deputy President Jeff Lawrence noted last week that the attendant had mentioned several factors including:

  • His 28 years of unblemished service for Qantas as a long-haul flight attendant.
  • The small value of the items stolen.
  • The Applicant’s age of 50 meant it would be difficult to get another job, certainly as a flight attendant.
  • Although he gave an incorrect explanation, he did correct it.
  • He had a number of medical and family issues prior to the incident.

“I have taken these matters into account and together they lead me to the view that the dismissal was harsh,” Deputy Commissioner Lawrence said.

He added that it would have been appropriate for Qantas to implement a penalty lesser than dismissal. The dismissal was not unreasonable and there was nothing in the process adopted by Qantas which made it unjust, he said, but the dismissal was harsh.

“Accordingly, I find that the dismissal was unfair within the terms of s.385.”

Having found that the dismissal was unfair, the FWC then turned to the appropriate remedy. It ordered Qantas to pay the attendant more than $33,731, a sum equal to 26 weeks of the attendant’s earnings.

Written by Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. So theft is no longer a justified reason to fire an employee, and even more egregious, to reward the thief $33,000 for his felony…
    A better remedy is to sack the FWC for its absolute loss of a moral compass. Not to mention its incompetence.

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