Hundreds of cabin crew sue Virgin Atlantic over unfair dismissal due to age

Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic is facing a lawsuit filed by over 200 cabin crew members who are claiming that the airline used COVID-19 redundancies to target older employees.

A report by The Guardian states that an employment tribunal in London will start examining more than 200 cases in June 2024. Former crew members will argue that the airline unfairly made them redundant while retaining cheaper new hires.

In March 2020, when COVID-19 prompted lockdowns and global travel, Virgin Atlantic grounded most of its fleet. The airline cut 3,000 jobs and reduced its workforce by over 40%. Staff that were later made redundant were initially placed in a ‘holding pool’, potentially to be rehired once flights resumed.

However, one of the claims alleges that Virgin Australia retained 350 new cabin crew who were in the pool, some with as little as one week’s training, while onboard managers, who were on average aged 45 and had 20 years’ experience, were made redundant.

The Guardian reports that one of those who lost their jobs was Susan Mcentegart, now 53, who had worked for Virgin for 23 years. Mcentagart is part of a group of 51 claimants being represented by a Luton-based law firm.

Mcentagart told The Guardian: “It seemed the world was closing down and losing jobs was inevitable. But the way they went about it seemed unfair. But I was flabbergasted that I wasn’t in the holding pool.

“There were people who hadn’t even got their wings – after six weeks of training – in the pool, and there seemed to be too many of us of an age that were left out.”

An additional 150 former staff members are pursuing claims through the Cabin Crew Union, and 11 are represented elsewhere.

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