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Virgin Flight Attendant Wins Unfair Dismissal After Falling Asleep On A Flight

Virgin flight attendant wins unfair dismissal after falling asleep on a flight

A Virgin Australia flight attendant has won her unfair dismissal claim after being sacked for falling asleep on a flight.

The Fair Work Commission found the dismissal was disproportionate to the alleged misconduct and was therefore harsh and unfair.

Virgin flight attendant wins unfair dismissal

DeVania Blackburn worked for Virgin as a Cabin Crew Supervisor for 14 years.

During a return flight from Brisbane to Cairns on the 31st of January, Blackburn worked as a supernumerary flight attendant.

Instead of assisting other cabin crew, she sat in a passenger seat, watched a movie and fell asleep, according to the airline.

Virgin also accused Blackburn of breaching the airline’s Look Book grooming policies by not wearing makeup, having messy hair and chipped nail polish.

Finally, the company said she stole food from the aircraft, and had arrived late for rostered shifts.

Unwell during flight

During her unfair dismissal hearing in the Fair Work Commission, Blackburn argued Virgin had failed to provide procedural fairness during the investigation and her eventual dismissal.

Firstly, she explained that she had felt unwell during the flight and had sat in the last row of the aircraft after observing boarding and service preparation.

She described her grooming standards on the day as exceeding expectations and said any criticisms had been “made out of spite.”

Blackburn also strenuously denied taking food from the aircraft.


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Warning more appropriate

Commissioner Paula Spencer said the issues raised by Virgin occurred over a period of just over a month and most allegations related to one flight.

She also noted that Blackburn refuted the allegations, including stealing snacks from the aircraft.

Ms Spencer described the flight attendant as a “long serving, experienced employee who had risen to the level of supervisor.”

Considering these factors, and other mitigating circumstances including illness, Ms Spencer found the dismissal was harsh, unjust and unreasonable.

She said a “significant clear warning” would have been more appropriate instead of dismissal.

She therefore ordered Virgin to reinstate Blackburn effective from 4 August 2022 and maintain her continuous service record.


Virgin flight attendant wins unfair dismissal after falling asleep on the jobLEARN MORE

Read Commissioner Spencer’s full decision in the Fair Work Commission


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