Fair Work Rules in Qantas Favor in Dispute with Sacked Employee

3rd Sep 2015

The Fair Works Commission has ruled that Qantas was not in the wrong after the carrier terminated contract with one employee who was giving large discounts to her friends and family.

The employee, Maria Panera, was sacked in June last year after it was found she was booking cheap flights to New York, Athens and Venice to her family and friends, which was against Qantas' company policy.

In one of those instances, Panera overruled the computer system to give a cheaper ticket to her friend, while in another; she omitted to enter the age of a friend's kid so that the friend would not have to pay an adult fare.

Panera refuted the allegations and said she was unaware that her actions were a breach of company policies. She also lodged a complaint with FWC, claiming unfair dismissal.

However, the commission has ruled Panera's application out and said it was not harsh.

Lea Drake, Senior Deputy President of the Fair Works Commission said:

"Ms. Panera had an otherwise good employment record and the outcome of termination of employment was, both socially and financially, devastating. Termination of employment might not necessarily be the fair outcome in such circumstances. However,, In consider that Qantas was entitled to expect a senior employee in Ms. Panera's role to both understand and apply its policies and to act honestly, and I am satisfied that in neither circumstance was termination of employment with notice an outcome that was harsh, unjust or unreasonable."

Warwick Ryan, Swaab Attorneys Partner said Qantas is well known for its procedures and is following them closely. To him, it was not surprising that the airline has won this case.

Ryan explained:

"If there is serious misconduct then there are grounds to terminate forthwith. But it doesn't mean that you are relieved of the obligation to investigate the incident, which includes giving the alleged perpetrator or wrongdoer the opportunity to put forth his or her side of the story."