Ryanair crew member ‘bullied’ to point of being physically sick

Airline disputing claim that flight attendant was constructively dismissed

A Ryanair flight attendant was so demeaned and bullied by a supervisor that he was on occasion physically sick, his counsel claimed at the Employment Appeals Tribunal.

Counsel Kevin Bell said former cabin crew member Brian Butler was particularly criticised in group, pre-flight checks when he did not answer questions fast enough, even though he has a stammer.

Mr Bell said it was Mr Butler's evidence that his job was made intolerable by supervisor Michelle Crotty when they were based together at Shannon Airport in Co Clare. It was Mr Butler's evidence that when he heard Ms Crotty was on his roster he became nervous, apprehensive, and unwell, to the point of being physically sick on at least one occasion.

Mr Bell said the situation had become so bad Mr Butler resolved to leave and sent his resignation by letter dated September 1st, 2010.


He said a letter was subsequently received from Ryanair inviting him to talks but Mr Butler would not at that stage have taken back his job if it was offered it to him. Mr Butler had decided instead to take a case for constructive dismissal, alleging bullying.

However, counsel for Ryanair Frank Beatty applied to the tribunal to have Mr Butler's claim for constructive dismissal struck out - on grounds including that Mr Butler had not given Ryanair a chance to resolve the situation.

Mr Butler had in the past made a complaint over a separate issue, under the company’s grievance procedures, and so could not claim to be unaware of them. Yet he said, Mr Butler had not utilised the procedures in this instance.

He said Mr Butler had made an informal complaint in relation to alleged bullying in mid-2010 and this had come up at a performance review in late July. A senior member of staff, Verona Houlihan, had undertaken to look at the allegations and report after a period of 30 days.

However, Mr Butler resigned citing an ear problem which he said prevented him from flying. Mr Beatty said Mr Butler had not responded to Ryanair’s subsequent letter which was an attempt to resolve the process. One of the avenues open to Mr Butler was to ask for a transfer, but this was not done, he said.

Mr Beatty said the claim for constructive dismissal should not proceed as Mr Butler, by his own evidence, had agreed he had not exhausted the complaints procedure, did not investigate the alternative option of a transfer, and did not give Ryanair a chance to resolve the issue.

Mr Bell responded that Mr Butler was entitled in law to have his case heard.

Tribunal chairman Roderick Maguire BL said the application to strike out the case would be considered and a determination issued in due course.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist