An Aer Lingus cabin steward who suffered a bout of in-flight paranoia after accidentally eating a cannabis cookie the night before working on a transatlantic flight launched a claim for unfair dismissal this week.
Miguel Saez Sanchez, 32, of Dunboyne, County Meath in …ire claimed his dismissal was "disproportionate" after he unwittingly consumed the cookie at a party in Los Angeles.
Mr Sanchez, who worked for Aer Lingus from November 2006 to April 2009, also consumed a slimming pill before the flight, again contrary to a provision in Aer Lingus's cabin crew handbook.
Despite feeling the effects of the cannabis before leaving San Francisco for Dublin on 20 March 2009, Mr Sanchez failed to advise his supervisor he was feeling unwell until after take off.
Cabin crew manager Mary Montgomery said that due to the severity of the paranoia -- apparently Mr Sanchez perceived passengers were talking about him, an Aer Lingus 'plant' was taking his photograph, and fleas were attacking him -- his supervisor had no option but to tell him to "stand down", after which he slept for the rest of the flight.
After landing in Dublin, Aer Lingus conducted an internal investigation and Mr Sanchez was dismissed for gross misconduct.
Captain Malachy O'Curry, for Aer Lingus, said that given the nature of a cabin crew steward's job it is absolutely crucial they present themselves medically and physically fit for work.
Ms Montgomery who worked as a cabin crew stewardess for 21 years agreed and said that she would not fly again with Mr Sanchez as the "trust is broken".
Mr Sanchez's lawyer Cathy McGrady, however, said that Mr Sanchez initially thought he was fit for work. When he realised he was not, he immediately brought it to the attention of his supervisor.
His dismissal was both unfair and disproportionate to the incident, she added.
A ruling on the case is expected sometime in the Spring.
- Aer Lingus steward who was 'high and paranoid' over Atlantic after eating hash cookie gets sacked (Irish Herald)
- Unfair dismissal law (Findlaw.co.uk)
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- Find an employment solicitor (Contact Law)