At an employment tribunal, a humiliated Virgin Atlantic pilot who was fired for suspected underperformance during simulator training was awarded £89,000 in compensation for unjust dismissal.
Following an exciting flight in which two other pilots contracted a horrible stomach illness and Captain Lawson was accused of falling asleep at the wheel, Captain Mike Lawson alleged that the airline arranged his dismissal.
Despite the fact that Captain Lawson sued Virgin Atlantic for £1.7 million, the labour tribunal gave him the maximum possible compensation.
Since being fired by Virgin Atlantic, Captain Lawson has failed to find work as a pilot and has had to sell his houses in the UK and France to support his family.
Virgin Atlantic allegedly harbored a vendetta against Captain Lawson for nearly two years following the Hong Kong flight in which his judgment was called into question, according to the court.
The two other pilots on the flight contracted a stomach illness several hours into the September 2015 journey, which they thought they had caught on a recent trip to Delhi, India.
One of the pilots took a break, as is customary on ultra-long-haul flights, leaving Captain Lawson and the other First Officer on the flight deck. However, an hour later, the First Officer had to’relieve’ himself because he needed to use the restroom urgently.
The pilot, unfortunately, “didn’t make it in time,” and cabin crew discovered him slumped over a crew seat.
Captain Lawson was the only fit pilot on board at this juncture, but instead of diverting the plane, he decided to continue on to Hong Kong.
Captain Lawson explained his reasoning, stating that the only other nearby airfields were in extremely remote areas of Russia and should only be used in an emergency.
The Captain, who had a lot of experience flying the Hong Kong route, chose to keep flying.
However, immediately after the flight, rumors began to circulate within the firm. Captain Lawson allegedly took a nap in the flight deck while alone, prompting supervisors to remove him from flying duties for a brief period of time.
Captain Lawson went through simulator training a few months later and failed. It was his first time failing a simulator test, and he feels the trainers set up the situation so that he would fail.
Captain Lawson became ill about a year later, and he was fired a few months after. During the hearing, Virgin Atlantic’s lawyers claimed that the airline had “long-standing concerns” about Captain Lawson’s performance, but they failed to provide any documentation to back up their claims.
Captain Lawson’s complaints of poor performance were found to be unfounded by the employment tribunal. Despite his victory, the tribunal concluded that Captain Lawson would not be allowed to return to his previous position.