|Table of Contents |
Being Cabin Crew | The Ugly Truth Part 3
Page 1 – Fighting Hatred in the Workplace
Page 2 – Employing a Sociopath
Page 3 – The Day that Changed My Life
Page 3 – When It All Becomes Too Much
Page 4 – Shalom Tel Aviv
Page 5 – Post Flight Customer Feedback
Page 6 – Cue Second Disciplinary
Page 7 – Outcome of the Grievance
Page 8 – Yee Haw The Last Page!
Being Cabin Crew | The Ugly Truth Part 5
Cue Second Disciplinary
Seventeen days after receiving a private message from the CEO regarding a comment I posted in a private chat room on Workplace, I received a call from Cabin Crew Manager Fred (not his real name).
The press flight to Tel Aviv I was rostered to work on was leaving the following day. He called me at 13:30, less than 24 hours before I was due to check-in.
The following screenshot comes from an email I received after we spoke.
During the conversation he told me the Head of Cabin Crew had requested the matter be dealt with as a grievance and if upheld, I’d receive a final written warning.
The grievance investigation meeting was arranged for 29th October 2019 at 09:30. My appeal meeting with the Head of Cabin Crew regarding the grievance raised by Bart was at 2pm the same day. I told Fred I preferred to have both together because I live a long way from the office.
Earlier that morning I received a call from someone from the press office. The lady I spoke to said she’d been told I was the operating Flight Manager and wanted to give me some information about the flight. I therefore know that at 10am that morning I was still part of the crew.
I believe at some point that morning the CEO looked at the list of operating crew and having seen my name, decided for whatever reason he didn’t want me on the flight. He therefore reported my post.
With regards to my use of the word “bloody”, I’m not someone who swears very often but “bloody” is a word I have always used quite freely. I don’t consider it to be swearing probably because of how I use it. For me it adds humour to something I’m saying.
How I use the word and how someone else reads or perceives it can understandably be very different. Especially when they don’t know me. I sometimes forget we live in a society today where everyone is so easily offended.
During the disciplinary meeting not the initial investigation carried out by Fred, I was questioned extensively about my use of the word bloody. The line of questioning was absurd. This was a small private group with less than fifty members all of whom were long serving managers in the company. With the exception of the Chief People Officer and CEO I knew everyone and everyone knew me.
This was a tongue-in-cheek comment and a poor attempt at banter that had gone horribly wrong.
I’m in my 50’s and had been with the airline for thirty years. I was now being questioned about my use of the word “bloody”. Would it have made any difference had I said “jews are such a fussy lot”? Was it the “bloody” that caused offence or the fact I was saying Jews are fussy?
It’s really important to keep this IN CONTEXT. This was an attempt at humour, I wasn’t making a profound statement. It also wasn’t posted to the wider cabin crew community where anyone could have screenshot the comment and shared it elsewhere.
Every person who was in the group was on the Tel Aviv “core crew” because they had volunteered for it. We all had a genuine interest in making the route a success.
Take a look at the following screenshots;
This is from an article I read recently published by the Jewish Centre for Holocaust Education in Oregon. I had to retype the third paragraph because as a screenshot it was too wide for the parameters of this page.
Imagine if you removed the context of what she’s talking about and said, “I find it offensive because you said “the whole bloody Jewish race”.
What troubles me most about this situation is the CEO didn’t report the post straight away. Having told him I was Jewish and apologised for any offence I may have caused, I believe he considered the matter closed.
Seventeen days later having become aware we were on the same flight he then reported what had taken place. He would only have done that because he knew I would be removed from the crew.
I’m fairly certain had he still been upset with my comment even after my apology, he would have reported me immediately or at least within a few days. Afterall he found time to contact I.T to ask them to remove the post (as you’ll see shortly). Why didn’t he copy in the Head of Cabin Crew?
Maybe he felt embarrassed for having addressed something that was clearly a tongue-in-cheek comment/banter only to then discover I was Jewish. Many communities poke fun at their themselves, it’s not done to cause offence or to embarrass anyone.
I think he may also have realised I was the Flight Manager who took out the first flight. A flight that was a huge success, that received outstanding customer feedback and a great review from a blogger who he or his office had asked to be well looked after.
The flight also received superb TV coverage in Israel from the press team who were onboard.
As onboard managers we were repeatedly told issues should be “nipped in the bud”. I don’t think seventeen days can be regarded as an acceptable time-frame to deal with something of this nature.
The following screenshot is one of the company’s brand values.
This screenshot comes from the Virgin.com website. The CEO was being interviewed by Holly Branson regarding the impact of Covid on the business.
Effective two way communication???? When I apologised and wished the CEO happy new year in Hebrew he didn’t even respond!
Maybe I should have asked him to meet for a virtual coffee to discuss the matter. Mind you it was prior to Covid.
I can honestly say for all the years I worked for this airline I tried to uphold the brand values mentioned above. These are not brand values specific to any company, they’re brand values of being a decent and upstanding human being.
I’ve always been loyal, pragmatic and tried to set an example for others to follow. I demonstrated empathy, integrity and maintained the highest level of respect for those with whom I worked.
I’m far from perfect but when I make a mistake I try to learn from it.
The way I was treated during my last twelve months by a small group of nasty vindictive cabin crew, at least two line managers, the Head of Cabin Crew and even the CEO goes against everything I have ever aspired to achieve during my entire working life.
The company’s brand values are not worth the paper they’re written on. As I’ve demonstrated throughout my blog and will continue to do so, those in positions of authority do not practice what they preach.
This series of emails show the CEO did not report my post any earlier than the day before the press flight;
This photo was taken as I left home for the grievance meeting with crew manager Fred and the appeal meeting later that day with the Head of Cabin Crew.
I want to include it to show what someone looks like who’s struggling with their mental health. Someone who on more than one occasion almost gave up.
My own line manager and several other managers including the Head of Cabin Crew were fully aware of my situation. Despite that, they were determined for allegations made by a habitual liar and his sociopath of a fiancée to be upheld.
Having achieved that they continued to pursue me by raising a second grievance that was also upheld. They went to extraordinary lengths to ensure the second matter was dealt with as a grievance when it could have been dealt with very differently.
Someone wanted me out and was prepared to go to whatever lengths necessary to ensure that was achieved.
During my appeal meeting with the Head of Cabin Crew I asked whether she knew how many men of my age commit suicide because of depression. She confirmed she did. Less than two weeks earlier she had asked for the second grievance to be raised and for it to be dealt with as final written warning.
Strangely I didn’t put two and two together and even told my manager after the meeting that I was happy with how it went. Little did I know it was all a charade.
At the beginning of the appeal meeting she even offered me her condolences for losing my dad. They were meaningless words.
The meeting with crew manager Fred that morning seemed to go well. It was a world away from the investigative grievance meeting that had taken place in March with crew manager Lana. By the end of that meeting I felt worthless and if my nineteen years as an onboard manager stood for absolutely nothing, which of course they did.
The meeting lasted for about an hour during which time I answered many questions. I explained what I wrote was a poor choice of words, that the CEO had taken the comment the wrong way and no malice was intended. I also said I would no longer be using Workplace and had removed my account.
The meeting ended with us speaking about Israel. I told Fred it was a wonderful country steeped in history and he really must go.
He was friendly, seemed to accept my apology and as I left the room I believed that was the end of it. The union rep’ agreed it seemed to go well.
Nine days later I received the following email;
If I didn’t make myself available for the meeting the next day I would have to wait eleven days to see what this was about.
During the telephone meeting that took place the following day Fred said after reading my post CEO Jack had contacted I.T to ask them to delete it. It was then deleted by them a short while later. Therefore I could not have deleted it.
I told Fred I couldn’t explain that. This discussion went on for some time. He kept telling me the post had been deleted by I.T not by me.
He was basically accusing me of lying.
Even in this modern age of technology things can and do still go wrong. Of course it’s possible that although I believed I had deleted the post it didn’t delete for whatever reason. I usually accessed Workplace on my PC or laptop but had deleted the post on my phone.
This line of questioning had absolutely nothing to do with the content of the post or the reason for the complaint.
Almost nothing of what I said during the first grievance raised by Bart had been believed and I was now facing exactly the same situation again.
It should be remembered soon after CEO Jack messaged me I apologised and told him I would delete the post. Not being able to find it, I then remembered I had already deleted it, or thought I had.
Fred then started asking me why I didn’t remember what I’d written when Jack initially asked me about the post. This was madness, we’d already had a meeting where I’d been questioned thoroughly about my choice of words. The focus of attention had now changed and I was being interrogated about my claim that I’d deleted the post shortly after submitting it.
Jack contacted me out of the blue four or five days after the comment was posted. Did Fred really think I had nothing more important on my mind than remembering a post I’d made four days earlier?
Fred then said if he had been asked about something that took place “last year”, some things he would remember straight away. He continued, if someone said you posted something that was deemed to be offensive, he felt he would recall that.
He then said when asking someone else this question, if they believed they had deleted the post he would expect an answer along the lines of “I thought I deleted it, I’m so sorry”.
Here’s my response to Jack when he asked me to delete the post because he felt it was “totally inappropriate”, not offensive. Is inappropriate the same as offensive? I’m not sure.
The following screenshot comes from minutes taken during the second telephone grievance meeting with Fred.
The focus of this investigation had shifted. I had taken full responsibility for what I had said and repeatedly apologised but it wasn’t enough. Fred wanted to prove I was lying.
I was furious towards the end of the call and couldn’t hide it.
The following screenshot comes from an email I sent to him a couple of days later;
This screenshot is from an email that was sent to I.T by the Employee Relations Consultant working with Fred. It shows how determined they were to prove I was lying.
Whether I was lying or not had nothing to do with investigation into the complaint made by Jack.
I.T said they deleted the post at approximately 17:02. That’s a few hours before I replied to Jack. My initial reply was sent at 8pm. That’s the reason I was unable to find the post.
The Employee Relations Consultant then asked who had viewed it and when. It was of no relevance. There were 48 people in the group. What difference if one saw it or everyone? Only one complaint had been received and that came from one of only two people who didn’t know me.
During the disciplinary hearing I said I would like to know who “liked” the post. I had been told two people had liked it. I was subsequently told it wasn’t possible to find that out!
Prior to messaging me CEO Jack made no attempt to find out anything about me. Had he spoken to one of the managers from the office who were part of the group they would I’m certain have put what I said into perspective. This is someone who talks about the importance of two-way communication and his love of people.
The fact I believed I had deleted the post but for whatever reason it didn’t delete was now being used to accuse me of lying.
It was exactly the same with the first grievance. Despite proving Bart’s entire complaint was based on lies, the Head of Cabin Crew was so determined for it to be upheld she wouldn’t even believe the opinion of a doctor of clinical psychology.
Take a look at the next two emails. This first one is from the same Employee Relations Consultant;
Fred was like a dog with a bone. He was determined for this grievance to be upheld just like the previous two crew managers were determined for the allegations of bullying, harassment and inappropriate touching to be upheld.
I.T were unable to confirm whether I “attempted to delete the post”. Therefore as stupid as it may sound, maybe I was telling the truth.
I believe there’s a pretty good chance he was told by his manager, Head of Cabin Crew to do everything possible to ensure the grievance was upheld. With that said, I’ve heard plenty of stories in the past about him being a bully. One came from my own partner.
On his first flight as cabin crew Fred was the Flight Service Manager. He wasn’t treated particularly nicely and was told off and given a negative mark on his performance appraisal. It was given for forgetting to go back to a customer on the outbound flight who had asked for a drink. That was the first sector of his very first flight with the company.
The Cabin Supervisor in Economy would have been been doing his performance appraisal. The Cabin Supervisor and Flight Manager were required to speak with each other prior to completing these assessments.
It’s rare for a crew member on their first flight to be marked down.
One mistake during two long sectors for a crew on his first flight who had never flown before really isn’t bad.