Saturday 20 January 2018

Ryanair flight attendant accused of harassing Jedward loses case for unfair dismissal


Gordon Deegan

A female Ryanair flight attendant who was accused of harassing Jedward on board a flight by a superior when asking for their autograph has lost her case for constructive dismissal against the airline.

In the case before the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT), Karolina Jabczuga  lost her case for constructive dismissal against Ryanair following her 2012 resignation.

In evidence heard over four days in Dublin, the EAT heard that Ms Jabczuga on a Ryanair flight  from Dublin to Manchester on Christmas Eve in 2009 approached Jedward who were on board and asked for their autographs.

Ms Jabczuga was aware that, per the company manual, cabin crew were not to talk to celebrity passengers.

A Polish national, Ms Jabczuga was subsequently told by BM, her base supervisor, that she had harassed the twins and was not to do so again.

The EAT also records that there was no complaint from the Grimes brothers in question.

The EAT found that some two years later the same celebrities were on board a flight “and, despite Ms Jabczuga counselling against it, some members of the crew approached the passengers, both during and after the flight, and had photographs taken with them. No action was taken against any of these crew members”.

Ms Jabczuga wrote to the Ryanair European Bases Manager, Emer O’Callaghan about the differing treatment that she and her colleagues received in relation to approaching the celebrities.

The letter was dated December 4th 2011 but it was not given to Ryanair until July 18th 2012. The EAT stated that “this was well outside the time delimited in the grievance procedure for the raising of grievances”.

Ms Jabczuga also had a grievance in relation to a Ryanair captain making a report about her in the manner in which she opened the cockpit door to allow the captain re-entry.

On a flight on June 28th 2012, Ms Jabczuga was the member of crew that went to the flight deck in the captain's absence.

In relation to her releasing the lock on the cockpit door to allow the captain's re-entry, Ms Jabczuga told the Tribunal that the captain then began shouting at her and speaking to her in an insulting fashion for not having correctly followed the correct procedure in relation to the unlocking of the cockpit door.

Ms Jabczuga said that the first officer had given her permission to do so and that she had been able to see that the person at the door was the captain.

On foot of the captain’s report which Ms Jabczuga complained about three other staff members, including the captain, were interviewed and reports furnished to Ms O’Callaghan. In 21st August 2012, the bases manager informed Ms Jabczuga that she had been unable to find any evidence to support her complaint claim.

Ms Jabczuga’s main grievance was being overlooked for promotion and promotion for cabin crew is based on average spend, attendance and general performance.

However, the EAT stated that on foot on evidence provided by Ryanair, the Tribunal was satisfied that Ms Jabczuga was not unfairly overlooked for promotion.

Ms O'Callaghan told the tribunal that the Jedward incident had no bearing on Ms Jabczuga's failure to receive a promotion.

On September 29th 2012, Ms Jabczuga tendered her resignation.

She gave as the reason for her resignation "discrimination, bullying and harassment in the workplace".

On foot of her resignation notice, Ms Jabczuga was invited to a meeting with Ms O'Callaghan and the issues discussed at that meeting were her lack of promotion; the passenger issue and the captain issue.

In its determination, the EAT stated: “It seems clear that the claimant was becoming increasingly frustrated in her employment and, in particular, with her lack of promotion. It would appear that the captain incident was the catalyst that led to her resignation.”

The EAT stated that in this case, Ms Jabczuga  failed to fully engage with and exhaust the grievance procedure available to her.

The EAT stated: “In resigning in circumstances that a claimant asserts amount to constructive dismissal, such claimant must act reasonably. This includes affording her employer an adequate and reasonable opportunity to address and remedy any grievance. By resigning before the grievance procedure had run its course the claimant did not afford this opportunity to the respondent and the Tribunal is satisfied that she did not reasonably in so doing.”

The EAT stated that the claim pursuant to the Unfair Dismissals Acts fails.

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