An easyJet flight attendant lost her job for eating a £4.50 bacon sandwich given to her by her manager on a flight because she did not ask for a receipt, an employment tribunal heard.
Shannon Gleeson ate the baguette because she had a nut allergy and had not been able to find safe food to eat while working abroad for the first time.
But she was sacked from the carrier for gross misconduct and theft after failing to ask her manager if the food had been paid for.
An employment tribunal at Cambridge Magistrates’ Court last week was told that the 22-year-old had breached company policy by not asking for a receipt.
The panel heard she may have been wrongly dismissed because easyJet’s policy placed no obligation on the consumer to see a receipt if food was given to them, The Sun reported.
The matter was then settled by the company out of court for an undisclosed sum on January 11 after it was heard there was no way of recording missing stock from a flight.
An investigation was launched by easyJet following the incident aboard a flight from Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport on January 3, 2015.
A fellow crew member told the company she had seen Gleeson and the cabin manager eating a bacon baguette and croque monsieur, meant for passengers, in the galley.
Gleeson, who had been employed by the airline for three years, was later called in to a meeting about the investigation.
She apologised for the incident and offered to pay the £4.50 fee but was sacked alongside the cabin manager for theft and gross misconduct.
The hearing heard there was no dispute that Gleeson had eaten the food from her manager and not paid for it herself, but breached company policy by not asking for proof her manager had paid.
Introducing the case on January 10, employment Judge Michael Ord said: “The actual incident is not in dispute. Ms Gleeson ate a bacon baguette and she had not paid for it. That is the extent of the mistake.”
The hearing was told the airline had no way of recording missing stock from a flight and that there was no ‘black and white’ policy in place for food given to staff.
Ross Fraser, the manager who dismissed Gleeson, said: “It doesn’t say it in black and white, but the expectation is there. There is regular communication to all of the cabin crew.”
Paul Hinton, from easyJet, told the hearing Gleeson was an “accomplice” in the theft. He said: “I feel that [offering to pay afterwards] was very much a case of closing the barn door after the horse had bolted.
“I think there was an element of choice. There was an element of knowing the rules were not being followed. I believe Shannon was an accomplice in it.
“There was in my opinion no way that she didn’t know that the item was being consumed without the proper authorisation. Just because the paperwork didn’t show it doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been stolen.
“It didn’t need to be checked in my opinion. The fact that two revenue items had been heated and consumed was enough.”
Judge Ord questioned the fairness of the decision to fire Shannon for gross misconduct.
He said: “She didn’t take it from the trolley. She wasn’t responsible for ensuring it was paid for. She accepted what had happened throughout and was open and honest.
“She apologised straight away and she has got three years unblemished, praiseworthy in fact, service. What further mediation factors would you have needed to come into play that would avoid dismissal?”
But Hinton said he believed the process had been fair.
Representing her daughter, Neisha Gleeson told the court Shannon had only accepted the sandwich because she had a nut allergy and had not been able to find safe food to eat while working abroad for the first time.
An easyJet spokeswoman said: “EasyJet has settled this matter with Ms Gleeson and so cannot comment in any further detail other than to say that we have clear and well-understood policies and the honesty of our employees is really important.”
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