A Virgin flight attendant who was accused of falling asleep on the job and taking snacks from a flight before she was fired has won back her job.
DeVania Blackburn took the airline to the Fair Work Commission claiming she was unfairly dismissed when she was dumped as cabin crew supervisor on July 21, 2021.
Ms Blackburn had been working for the airline for 14 years and was accused of breaching several codes of conduct between January and March 2021.
A Virgin flight attendant who was accused of falling asleep on the job and taking snacks from her flights before she was fired has won back her job (stock image)
DeVania Blackburn took the airline to the Fair Work Commission claiming she was unfairly dismissed when she was dumped as cabin crew supervisor on July 21, 2021
She was accused of taking an ‘armful’ of snacks from the plane, packing them into her crew esky and leaving with them following a flight.
The airline accused Ms Blackburn of failing to follow the dress code, claiming she turned up for a shift without makeup, messy hair and chipped nail polish.
On another occasion the airline claimed she did not wear stockings.
In the FWC documents, a witness said they saw Ms Blackburn fast asleep in a plane seat after first spotting her watching her iPad back on January 31, 2021.
The witness, a Virgin colleague, also accused Ms Blackburn of refusing to return to her seat assigned for cabin crew as the plane was preparing to land.
Ms Blackburn was also accused by Virgin of being late to work on three separate occasions with carpark logs showing she was almost one-and-a-half hours late to work on March 9, 2021.
Ms Blackburn was suspended on March 9, 2021, before she was fired months later.
She then filed an unfair dismissal complaint to the Fair Work Commission, claiming she was not given procedural fairness.
Ms Blackburn argued against Virgin’s allegations, claiming it was common practice for staff to take snacks from the plane.
‘After flight duty not once did I get asked if I had any items from onboard, nor did I get asked what was in my crew bag,’ Ms Blackburn wrote.
She also said she had to lie down across a passenger row because she was too unwell to sit in a jumpseat, a rigid chair designed for take-off and landing, and was suffering from ‘dizziness and light headedness’ and didn’t want to block an exit if she fainted.
She also refuted Virgin’s allegations she had not followed the airline’s strict grooming procedures.
‘I know I had my grooming standards exceeded with my nails just done professionally, my make-up included nude tones and my staple process being bronzer, mascara and lip gloss,’ Ms Blackburn wrote in her submission.
‘My hair had just been straightened and in an up-style meeting LookBook standards.
‘I feel these allegations are made out of spite and with no substance as not once did anyone mention any advice or any issue with my grooming.
‘As a team we are to look after each other or correct any errors observed to ensure policies and procedures are followed.’
A flight attendant also claimed they found Ms Blackburn sitting in the passenger area and watching a movie on her iPad while they were working (stock image)
Commissioner Paula Spencer found Ms Blackburn’s dismissal was ‘harsh, unjust and unreasonable’.
Ms Blackburn had been off work for a long period of time and the issues resulting in her termination were on her first return to duties and all occurred in ‘close proximity and dealt with on an aggregate basis’.
‘When regard is had for all of those circumstances, alternative performance management to remedy the conduct, prior to the escalation of the disciplinary procedure to the level of dismissal, was warranted,’ Commissioner Spencer found.
‘(Ms Blackburn) is a long-serving, experienced employee who had risen to the level of supervisor. The termination of employment, whilst based on a valid reason, was unfair considering all of these factors.’
Commissioner Spencer ordered Virgin to give Ms Blackburn her job back.
Ms Blackburn also asked the FWC to get Virgin to pay her wages for the entire time she was off work but the commission did not grant her that order.
‘However, the wages paid in lieu of notice is not recoverable by Virgin,’ the commission said.
Daily Mail Australia contacted Virgin Australia for comment.