The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has once again rejected the claim of a former Qantas pilot that he was unfairly dismissed in May 2014 for serious misconduct after sexually harassing a female colleague while drunk.
The pilot, who was brought to task for groping a female second officer while on a night out during a layover in Santiago, Chile earlier that year, claimed his drink had been spiked with cannabis. He insisted that his actions were involuntary and unintentional, as he unknowingly consumed a spiked drink.
The FWC full bench, however, ruled that the pilot failed to prove that his drink was spiked with cannabis. As far as the FWC is concerned, the pilot was responsible for all his actions while drunk and high.
The pilot’s unfair dismissal claim was first rejected by FW Commissioner Ian Cambridge in February 2015, saying the pilot was not an innocent victim of drink spiking. A full FWC bench then refused in April 2015 to allow the pilot to file an appeal. The pilot, however, managed to make an appeal after the Federal Court ruled that the pilot was not given the chance to present the merits of his appeal.
Nevertheless, the pilot’s second appeal was promptly rejected by the FWC full bench. According to FWC Deputy Presidents Reg Hamilton and Jeff Lawrence and Commissioner Tony Saunders, the expert evidence submitted by the worker was indeed inconclusive, essentially supporting Commissioner Cambridge’s earlier decision on the case.
“We accept that there was no jurisdictional error in the Commissioner’s decision in the limited discussion of the expert evidence and other matters,” the FWC said.
The full bench also stated that the facts were clear, that the pilot had consumed a lot of alcohol, that a urine drug test detected cannabis, and that he sexually harassed a female colleague while drunk and high. The pilot, said the FWC, is held to high standards of behaviour, yet failed to satisfactorily explain the cannabis in his urine and his conduct that night.
Read the full FWC decision here.
Alcohol and pilots don’t match
The case of this ex-Qantas pilot only goes to show that alcohol and pilots don’t match. Whether or not his drink was spiked with cannabis is beside the point. It is a fact that the pilot behaved that way because he drank a considerable amount of alcohol. What if his actions while in an intoxicated state didn’t stop at sexual harassment? Remember, they were at a layover, which meant he was going to fly a plane sooner or later. Considering the amount of alcohol in his system (plus the cannabis), that is a very worrying thought.