Good to see an employer win costs

The Herald reports:

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.

It is rare for an employee to be hit with such a large costs bill, but you’ll see it was justified in this case as Stuff reports.

She then took a personal grievance case to the Employment Relations Authority claiming she was unjustifiably dismissed, but there was no merit found to her claims.

Kilpatrick appealed the decision to the Employment Court claiming unjustifiable dismissal and breach of contract, in a case that was heard in July last year.

But Judge Mark Perkins again threw out Kilpatrick’s claims and noted that when giving evidence in court she had been deliberately misinterpreting questions to give vague answers.

He found it difficult to understand Kilpatrick’s stance and believed Air New Zealand was well within its rights to start disciplinary action against her.

“Ms Kilpatrick failed to appropriately engage with Air New Zealand in good faith and in a timely manner,” the judge said.

“She refused to agree to meetings with management which were arranged so that Air New Zealand could hear her side of events and possibly get to the bottom of why she had behaved in the way she did and by which discussion she could possibly have saved her employment.”

In his costs decision released on Thursday, Judge Perkins said the way Kilpatrick had presented and conducted her case was inefficient and added significantly to the costs incurred by Air New Zealand.

Some of the details suggest she was very unsuited for a customer job:

A flight attendant on the Rarotonga flight, Michelle Coyle, gave evidence during January’s hearing that Kilpatrick had been combative from the start.

During a pre-flight meeting of attendants, she said she asked Kilpatrick if she preferred to be called Jenny or Jen, which was met with the response: “Neither, I am neither of them and if you want to call me that I’m going home; it’s over”.

During the flight Kilpatrick was responsible for the galley and her attitude was described as poor by Coyle.

Kilpatrick had not programmed the in-flight entertainment screens to include food orders, leading to complaints from passengers about a lack of food.

The galley was described as “a shambles” with carts out and no replenishing of tea or coffee.

One passenger also saw Kilpatrick eating one of the pies, which were supposed to be available for purchase by passengers but had not been added to the in-flight screen.

The passenger made a pointed comment to Kilpatrick about the situation, who then “rudely berated him” for watching her while she ate.

After shouting at several other flight attendants and calling them “useless” she was told to stop shouting but said “I’m not shouting, I have a loud voice”.

I wonder how she got hired in the first place. Maybe she presented well at interview.

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