Friday 24 March 2017

Ex-VIP airport lounge worker caught with vodka in handbag drops appeal over dismissal claim

Kristina Malinovska pictured leaving Davitt House following her appearance at an employment appeal.
Kristina Malinovska pictured leaving Davitt House following her appearance at an employment appeal.

Saurya Cherfi

An assistant at Aer Lingus’s Gold Circle Lounge in Dublin Airport, who was suspended after a plastic bottle of alcohol was found in her handbag, has withdrawn a legal challenge to a decision of the Employment Appeals Tribunal to throw out her constructive dismissal claim.

Circuit Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke was told after part-hearing the case that following talks between the parties, Kristina Malinovska was withdrawing her appeal against former employer OCS One Complete Solution Limited, which trades as OCS Outsourced.

Malinovska today told the Circuit Civil Court that she had taken the drink to work during a late shift in January 2015 as she would be meeting friends afterwards.

The 250ml plastic bottle with vodka had been found during a routine search of her handbag by her supervisor at the end of her shift and she had been suspended pending an investigation into suspicions of drinking on duty or stealing the alcohol.

She said that following the investigation and a disciplinary hearing, OCS had decided that she had not committed any offence and exonerated her.

She had been told she would not be returning to the Gold Circle Lounge, where she had worked for 15 years, but would be given cleaning duties in the food court.

She told her barrister, Darach MacNamara, that she felt all her co-workers and friends were aware of what had happened and that her reputation had been damaged.

Mr MacNamara, who appeared with E.M O’Hanrahan solicitors, said Ms Malinovska loved her job in the Gold Circle Lounge and felt that the alternative positions offered to her were a demotion.   She had not wanted to clean toilets and remove rubbish in the food court area.

The court heard that working in the lounge with “VIPs and First Class customers” gave an impression of prestige and of a certain status among her fellow employees.

OCS One Complete Solution Limited claimed that moving employees to different areas was common and that she had been doing similar duties in the lounge.  Malinovska had been offered relocation to several areas but had always said “no.”

The company alleged that Aer Lingus had requested her removal from the lounge following the “vodka incident,” stating that she was no longer suitable to work in the lounge.   

Under cross-examination Malinovska agreed her contract classed her as a cleaner and conceded that the firm could move her to another location.

Following a brief adjournment to allow talks between the parties, Mr MacNamara told Judge Groarke that Ms Malinovska was withdrawing her claim.  The judge struck out the case and made no further order.

Last May the Employment Appeals Tribunal found that Ms Malinovska was afforded every opportunity to return to work, an opportunity she refused to avail of.

The tribunal, dismissing her claim for constructive dismissal, stated it was satisfied Ms Malinovska’s behaviour in failing to engage in any satisfactory manner with her employer was unreasonable.

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