A Qantas employee claims she was demoted from her international flight attendant job after being expelled from China for being a member of Falun Gong.

Lawyers for Sheridan Genrich, of New South Wales, told a workplace relations tribunal she was demoted after she was interrogated during a stopover in Beijing in 2008. She was deported and told there would be "serious consequences" if she came back.

She was then moved to a lower-paying position on short-haul routes.

"I didn't know why I was being taken away and I was on my own ... I knew I practised Falun Gong ... this had never happened before," the Fair Work Australia tribunal heard.

The spiritual movement Falun Gong has been banned in China since 1999.

"Qantas turned on the victim of the outrage and stood her down and subjected her to a disciplinary hearing," Ms Genrich's lawyer Shane Prince told the hearing.

Ms Genrich wanted reinstatement and compensation for lost wages.

Qantas said it switched her to short-haul duties because its international crew must be able to travel to any country.

Qantas' lawyer said Ms Genrich had flown to China with the airline five times without incident but had brought material in her luggage that she should have known was illegal in China.

Chinese authorities found a copy of Zhuan Falun - the main Falun Gong text - in her luggage, and a newspaper linked to the movement.

Qantas said its staff manual prohibited "conveying" newspapers while working.

Ms Genrich said she was taking the material to friends in China.

Fair Work Australia Commissioner Frank Raffaelli reserved his decision on the case.