Aer Lingus worker sacked for turning up drunk after night out

Labour Court rejects appeal against dismissal by female cabin crew member

The Aer Lingus worker sued for unfair dismissal but the Labour Court has upheld the decision to sack her. Photograph: Cathal McNaughton/Reuters

An Aer Lingus cabin crew member blamed going out drinking the night before when she turned up for work at 4.20pm the following day three times over the company's alcohol limit.

The worker sued for unfair dismissal after she was sacked but the Labour Court upheld the company's decision.

In the case, the woman crewed an early evening flight from Dublin to Amsterdam on September 24th, 2016.

On touching down at Amsterdam, a senior cabin crew colleague noticed that the worker “appeared disorientated and distracted” and reported her concerns to the captain. The captain then consulted company headquarters in Dublin and a decision was made to stand the worker down from duty. She returned to Dublin as a passenger.


As part of Aer Lingus’s intoxicant policy, on arriving back at Dublin, the worker was breathalysed for alcohol. The result of the first breathalyser test was 30ug/100ml of breath and the result of the second was 28ug/100ml of breath. The maximum permitted under the company’s intoxicant policy is 9ug/100ml.

The airline then mounted an investigation and disciplinary proceedings. The day after a disciplinary hearing in October 2016, the woman sent an email to the chair of the hearing.


“I can only blame myself for the outcome of the breathalyser and am devastated and embarrassed by this,” she wrote. “I didn’t knowingly break any rules as far as my job was concerned, however I am now aware of the ramifications of having drinks the night before work and the effects it has on my body.

“This was the first night I had ever gone out when having work the next day. Ultimately, it is my responsibility and I truly regret this.”

On November 23rd, 2016, the company wrote to the worker to confirm that she was being summarily dismissed for gross misconduct.

The worker’s internal appeal failed and the airline stated a lesser sanction than dismissal “would not be appropriate, having regard to the breakdown of trust and confidence that resulted from the complainant’s intoxicated state on September 24th, 2016 while performing a safety critical role”.

In its determination, the Labour Court found that Aer Lingus appropriately applied its intoxication policy in all the circumstances.

The Labour Court stated the worker clearly understood that she was employed in a safety critical role. The court found the dismissal was not unfair in any respect and that her claim for unfair dismissal is not well-founded.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times