Eight Aer Lingus cabin crew who were wrongfully accused of taking biscuits, mineral water and orange juice off an aircraft following a flight to Boston have been offered four weeks' additional leave or the cash equivalent for the "serious hurt" suffered.
Labour Court chairman Kevin Duffy said he hoped his decisions will "be accepted as a vindication of the standing and reputation of the staff concerned", adding that suspending all the workers pending investigation was "unreasonable". He also ordered that any crew member who suffered loss as a result of taking sick leave, attending meetings or court hearings arising out of the incident "should have that loss restored". Any reference to the incident on personnel files should be removed and it will have no impact whatsoever on future career prospects in Aer Lingus, he ordered.
The incident happened in June 2008 when, after landing, the Custom Border Control officers in Boston conducted a search of the cabin crew. The officers contacted Aer Lingus in Dublin complaining that the crew had not filled out the border control forms properly and had not declared items they removed from the aircraft. They also said the cabin crew had no receipts for their duty free goods.
The officers warned Aer Lingus that "further violations may result in the issuance of penalties against the crew members and/or the carrier". The airline launched an investigation and all eight crew members were suspended on full pay. But six days later the airline lifted the suspensions and abandoned a disciplinary hearing.
Impact trade union said the crew were "seriously hurt" and some "became ill and needed counseling". The union added the airline had never issued receipts for purchases made on board and had only started issuing receipts after the Boston incident.