An appeal Virgin Australia filed against a court order ordering the airline to rehire a flight attendant who was fired for taking a sleep during a trip and watching a movie when she was supposed to be working was successful.
After a brief investigation into DeVania Blackburn’s behaviour over the course of a month, including on a training flight, the professional flight attendant, who had worked for Virgin Australia for about 14 years, was fired in July 2021.
Blackburn was accused of a series of violations, including stealing four packets of food that were supposed to be distributed during flights and taking a nap and watching a movie on her iPad during the training flight.
In addition, Blackburn was accused of violating Virgin Australia’s tight dress code by neglecting to wear stockings or cosmetics and arriving to work late.
Blackburn filed a complaint with the Fair Work Commission after being fired, and the Commissioner in charge of the case decided last July that Blackburn should be given her job back.
Despite many “strongly worded” negative judgements against the flight attendant, the court found that Blackburn’s termination was “harsh, unfair, and irrational” because of mitigating factors such as her extensive airline experience.
In addition, the Commissioner determined that Blackburn lacked specialised training and said that Virgin Australia had neglected to consider Blackburn’s prior performance or personal circumstances.
Virgin Australia filed an appeal against the verdict, claiming that the Commissioner made a number of errors in her judgement, including ignoring Blackburn’s prior disciplinary warnings.
The airline’s years of Blackburn’s service have not “outweigh the unsatisfactory conduct” an appeals panel has now ruled in favour of Virgin Australia. The court further determined that Blackburn “chose not to comply with the necessary procedures” despite being aware of the expected behaviour during her training flight.