Dismissed over Excessive Absenteeism
An air hostess who was fired for her “extreme level of absenteeism “has claimed that Aer Lingus was “always looking to dismiss” her. Beverly Mulryan (38), from Dunwater, Kilsallaghan, Co Dublin, is taking a case for unfair dismissal against her former employer after she was sacked in August 2010.
An employment appeals tribunal heard that Ms Mulryan began working with the airline in March 2007, but from April 2009 until her dismissal the following year, she had an “extraordinary” level of absenteeism. According to the airline, in one five-month period and after she had received a written warning, Ms Mulryan was absent for around 90 days.
A barrister for Aer Lingus, Rosemary Mallon, told the tribunal that in some cases when Ms Mulryan took sick leave, it became apparent that she was not sick and that it was a member of her family who was ill.”It’s an unfortunate set of circumstances, but there’s only so much a company can take. There is a requirement for cabin crew to be in attendance at work,” she added.
However, solicitor David Gaffney, for Ms Mulryan, pointed out that only one of his client’s absences, covering a two-day period in September 2009, was uncertified and that she had presented a doctor’s certificate for the rest of them.”Through no fault of her own, she had a number of debilitating conditions that started in April 2009 and kept going,” he said. “It did nothing of any kind to help her. It was always about issuing warnings and taking it to the next level.”(The company) was always looking to dismiss and that behaviour is irresponsible and tantamount to unfair dismissal,” he added.
The tribunal heard that during an investigation meeting with management, Ms Mulryan admitted that one of her absences was not due to her being sick but was because her mother was in hospital in Cork. Mary Montgomery, manager of cabin operations with Aer Lingus, told the tribunal that she did not take the decision to dismiss anyone lightly.
However, after completing various processes and procedures, including referring Ms Mulryan for counselling under the airline’s employee-assistance programme, she felt that there was no hope of improvement in her attendance record.”We require four or eight cabin crew, depending on the flight, and if one person is not available they have to be replaced. It’s not possible for the flight to depart minus one person,”she added.
She said that while the airline had replacement cabin crew on standby in order for it to manage its number of services, it had to work off a “reasonable” amount of sick leave.
The case was adjourned to May 8.