Sacked flight attendant to pay $80k in costs

The flight attendant was fired after a dispute about her behaviour on flight NZ19 from Rarotonga to Auckland. Photo / Dean Purcell
The flight attendant was fired after a dispute about her behaviour on flight NZ19 from Rarotonga to Auckland. Photo / Dean Purcell

A flight attendant sacked after being accused of eating food meant for passengers and berating a customer has lost a bid to get her job back at Air New Zealand.

Jennifer Kilpatrick was fired after a dispute about her behaviour on flight NZ19 from Rarotonga to Auckland in March 2012, and her subsequent sick leave.

She fought a long-running battle to get her job back.

In a judgement released last week Judge Perkins ordered Kilpatrick to pay $80,000 in costs plus $795.50 in disbursements to Air New Zealand. She was also told to pay $8,750 the Authority originally awarded.

During the Employment Court hearing evidence from one of her former colleagues, Flight Service Manager Michelle Coyle was heard.

"Ms Coyle stated in evidence that she had never, prior to these flights with Ms Kilpatrick or since, experienced such behaviour from a flight attendant."

The court heard a passenger heading to the toilet walked past the galley and saw Ms Kilpatrick eating one of the pies "which were to be available for passengers to order" from the screens.

"The passenger made a pointed comment to Ms Kilpatrick and she then rudely berated him for watching her while she ate her meal. She then told the other crew members in the galley in a loud voice 'He has been watching' after the passenger had moved on but was still within earshot."

The airline said Ms Kilpatrick had not programmed in-flight entertainment screens to include food orders for people wanting to buy food.

The Employment Court decision said Ms Kilpatrick tried blaming another flight attendant for the in-flight screen oversight.

"When instructed to do the inventory by Ms Coyle, Ms Kilpatrick replied it was not her problem, turning her back on Ms Coyle and walking to the other side of the galley," Judge Perkins added.

In 2013, the ERA ruled she was justifiably dismissed, and ordered her to pay $10,000 in costs to the national carrier.

But Ms Kilpatrick fought that decision, seeking reinstatement at an Employment Court hearing in Auckland.

At an appeal hearing in June last year, Ms Kilpatrick broke down in tears, describing emotional and financial hardships she experienced after losing her job.

The Employment Court dismissed Ms Kilpatrick's appeal in its entirety.

- NZ Herald

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