A Qantas flight attendant sacked after drinking a quarter bottle of vodka while working on a flight has lost her unfair dismissal claim.
Alison Warr recorded a positive breath test after arriving in Johannesburg.
Colleagues suspected her of drinking during a flight from Sydney.
Qantas flight attendant drank vodka while working
Warr joined Qantas in 1987 and had an excellent work record with the airline.
In July, while working on the flight from Sydney to Johannesburg, she quickly drank the vodka mixed with soda water when alone in the front galley.
Warr initially claimed she bought the alcohol at a duty-free store at Sydney airport, however, she later admitted stealing it from on-board the aircraft.
In a letter to her employer, she said:
“I allowed the company to investigate something that I knew was false, I didn’t tell my support that I had misled the investigation until the evidence was overwhelming.
“And I can only say that in my mind, drinking company stores was worse than drinking my own.
“I deeply regret being untruthful about the source of the alcohol; I panicked and I lied.
“As the investigation continued the lie was perpetrated and in fact caused me even greater stress in hindsight than I would have experienced I suspect that if I told the complete truth from the beginning.”
Sacking ‘disproportionate to the misconduct’
Warr argued in the Fair Work Commission her sacking was “disproportionate to the misconduct”.
Additionally, she claimed Qantas failed to take into account her three decades of loyal service to the airline.
The first and business class flight attendant also said she had been stressed because of family issues.
Furthermore, she added that she felt pressure “not to call in unfit”.
Qantas submitted that Warr’s neglect of her safety role on the flight, and the fact she stole the vodka made the issue worse.
It told the Commission her “misconduct was exacerbated by her untruthfulness during the course of the investigation which was only acknowledged in the face of overwhelming evidence that was presented to her”.
Deputy president Geoffrey Bull acknowledged Warr’s length of good service, describing it as the “most compelling” part of her argument.
However, he found she worked in “a safety sensitive position and for good reason was prohibited from consuming alcohol during a flight”.
He therefore found in favour of Qantas and dismissed her claim.
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan from Dismissals ‘R’ Us says the decision is unsurprising.
“Ms Warr had a number of problems with her claim,” he said.
“Firstly, she stole from her employer, which is grounds for instant dismissal.
“She secondly drank alcohol while on duty in a safety critical role, which is also grounds for instant dismissal.
“Then she lied to her employer about the incident, which is also grounds for dismissal.
“She breached a number of the airline’s policies and didn’t have a leg to stand on.”
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