A Latvian woman who worked at Aer Lingus' VIP lounge at Dublin Airport claimed she was "humiliated" into cleaning toilets after her employer discovered a bottle of vodka in her handbag.
Claiming her employer made her out to be "a drunk and a thief" Kristina Malinovska (40) from Dublin is suing her former employer, One Complete Solution Ltd, trading as Outsourced Client Solutions (OCS), for constructive dismissal at the Employment Appeals Tribunal.
Ms Malinovska broke down in tears as she told the tribunal yesterday how she worked without incident as a lounge assistant and waitress at Aer Lingus' Gold Circle lounge at the Dublin Airport for 15 years.
The lounge, which provides elite Gold Circle Club members with a free bar and snacks while awaiting their flights, is run by OCS which also provides cleaning and pest control services.
Ms Malinovska said she had an unblemished work record and reported for her 1pm to 9.30pm shift on January 27, 2015 when a duty manager checked her handbag as part of a routine search of staff belongings.
The manager found a 250ml plastic bottle containing vodka.
Ms Malinovska was told to leave the premises immediately and was summoned to an investigation into the matter the following day in which she denied stealing the vodka or consuming it at work.
She claimed she bought the vodka to drink with a friend after work because she wouldn't be able to make it to an off-license before it closed.
She said she transferred the vodka into a plastic bottle due to security checks at the airport.
She received a letter from OSC on February 19, 2015 stating that the subsequent investigation into the matter found nothing untoward.
There was no sanction forthcoming against her, other than a request not to bring "large quantities of alcohol to work", the tribunal heard.
But she was told she wouldn't be working in the lounge again and her new job would be cleaning in toilets and the general food court area in the airport, despite claiming she was "promised I would never be moved".
This prompted her to quit her job which pays around €20,000 a year, because she felt humiliated by what she believed was a demotion.
Michael Leavy, a former OCS operations manager, denied Ms Malinovska was suspected of drinking on the job or stealing liquor and gave the reason for her sudden change in job functions as "a demand by operations to cover that position right away."
OCS also said Ms Malinovska's job title was a cleaner and that she agreed to OCS's employment conditions that her job function and location can change.
The case was adjourned.