Flight attendant accused of performing a sex act on a passenger after colleagues said they heard ‘strange slurping sounds’ during Virgin Australia flight wins £10k for wrongful dismissal
- Seaooloumalo Loli worked for Virgin Australia New Zealand (VANZ)
- Accused in February 2018 after colleagues claimed they heard strange sounds
- They also alleged he had provided free beer to passenger in question
- But New Zealand’s employment authority did not uphold the sex act claim
- Airline was ordered to pay Loli for lost wages and non-economic loss
A flight attendant who was accused of performing a sex act on a passenger during a Virgin Australia flight has been awarded £10,000 ($20,000) for wrongful dismissal.
Virgin Australia New Zealand (VANZ) Staff member Seaooloumalo Loli was accused in February 2018 after colleagues claimed they heard ‘strange slurping sounds’ coming from the aircraft’s rear galley during a flight.
Loli, who has worked as a flight attendant since 2008, was also accused of giving free beer to the passenger in question.
But he consistently denied the allegations and took his case to New Zealand’s employment relations authority after being suspended and dismissed.
A flight attendant who was accused of performing a sex act on a passenger during a Virgin Australia flight has been awarded £10,000 ($20,000) for wrongful dismissal (file photo)
The authority found Loli had been ‘unjustifiably’ suspended and dismissed because there was not ‘sufficient information’ to support the sex act allegation, the New Zealand herald reported.
However, it did conclude that the attendant provided free beers to the passenger, even though he was not entitled to them.
The authority said there remained unanswered questions about what happened during the flight.
Flight attendants became suspicious after reportedly hearing the strange sounds, as well as claiming they caught Loli ‘in the act’, the employment authority said.
‘Clearly Mr Loli was in a situation, behind curtains with a passenger for an extended period, which could raise questions but questions are not enough,’ the judgement added.
Loli was also accused of preventing another flight attendant from coming into the galley to go about her duties.
He was told about the allegations in June 2018 but strongly denied them, adding he was ‘shocked and very distressed’ to hear of them.
The attendant was then reportedly suspended for two weeks without being given a chance to respond.
Virgin Australia New Zealand (VANZ) Staff member Seaooloumalo Loli was accused in February 2018 after colleagues claimed they heard ‘strange slurping sounds’ coming from the aircraft’s rear galley during a flight
The employment authority found that VANZ did not meet its obligations before the suspension.
VANZ are said to have investigated further and tried to meet with Loli and his legal representatives, but were unable to find a suitable time.
The company then reportedly terminated his employment in September 2018 by email.
Loli argued that there were inconsistencies between the statements of the two flight attendants who had accused him.
In its conclusion, the employment authority supported Loli’s case, finding that the sex act allegation was ‘not substantiated’.
They added that there were ‘procedural inadequacies’ in the airline’s investigation.
The airline was ordered to pay Loli £1,192 ($2,435) for lost wages during the suspension, £3,558 ($7,267) for wages lost during the dismissal, and £4,896 ($10,000) as compensation for non-economic loss.