Warr v Qantas Airways Limited T/A QANTAS (2019)
Qantas Airways Limited (QANTAS) employed Mrs Warr as a flight attendant. On a flight from Sydney to Johannesburg, Mrs Warr consumed some vodka and became noticeably intoxicated during the flight. When the flight arrived in Johannesburg, Mrs Warr was subjected to a breath test, which returned a positive reading for alcohol. Mrs Warr was stood down with pay pending an investigation.
During the investigation, Mrs Warr initially claimed she had purchased the vodka (and swore a statement to that effect), but later admitted she had taken it from the on-board supply for the flight.
QANTAS terminated Mrs Warr’s employment.
It claimed that Mrs Warr:
- was aware of its zero tolerance alcohol policy;
- held a critical position for safety in her aviation activities; and
- had breached QANTAS’ safety and health policy and the Civil Aviation Regulations.
Mrs Warr filed an unfair dismissal application alleging the termination of her employment was unfair given her 31 years of service, her otherwise good work history, her personal circumstances and financial situation.
Given the seriousness of the misconduct, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) upheld the dismissal, despite Mrs Warr’s circumstances.
The FWC held that Mrs Warr’s preparedness to lie and sign a sworn statement knowing she had stolen the vodka was not a trifling matter. There were also important safety reasons for QANTAS’ zero tolerance alcohol policy and
compliance with the Civil Aviation Regulations.
This case demonstrates that where there is an incident of misconduct that is so serious as to support dismissal, employment termination may not be unfair despite a long period of prior excellent service.