The Cover Up v The Crime by Kate Ausden

Kate Ausden Blog, Uncategorized

This is a sobering reminder to all employees who may have breached applicable policies and procedures.

A Qantas steward, after 31 years of “good service”, failed a drug and alcohol test after arriving in Johannesburg. She had been drinking alcohol on the flight. This raises two issues for a steward: firstly, whether the alcohol was taken from Qantas (and not purchased by the steward) and the resultant breaches of rigorous internal and external safety procedures applicable to Qantas stewards.

At first instance, in the investigation, the Qantas steward indicated that she had purchased a bottle of Vodka at a duty free store prior to boarding the plane. She even indicated a willingness to sign a sworn statement that a cash purchase was made. As the investigation ensued she conceded that she had been dishonest and taken the bottle of Vodka from the plane.

It was held by the FWC that the Qantas steward “occupied a safety sensitive position and for good reason was prohibited from consuming alcohol during a flight.”

In relation to her dishonesty, Deputy President Bull referred to the case of Allied Express Transport Pty Limited v Anderson [16] and stated that “I accept that where an employee is not truthful in responding to their employer this does not of itself establish a valid reason for dismissal.” But, the Qantas steward’s dishonesty was not isolated, it was “continuing and repeated” and, was not “spur of the moment.” The most troubling element for the FWC appeared to be the Qantas steward’s readiness to make a false written statement.

The unfair dismissal application was dismissed.

Warr v Qantas Airways Limited [2019] FWC 2182 (3 April 2019)