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Does this Email from British Airways Chief Executive Alex Cruz Show a “Negative Approach” to Safety Whistleblowers?

Does this Email from British Airways Chief Executive Alex Cruz Show a “Negative Approach” to Safety Whistleblowers?

An email from Alex Cruz, the chief executive of British Airways, has been called into question by an Employment Tribunal judge in a preliminary judgement of a constructive dismissal case brought by an ex-member of cabin crew. The ruling was published after a request by British Airways to get the case thrown out over “scandalous, unreasonable or vexatious” conduct by its former employee was rejected.

During his time as a member of British Airways cabin crew Bartek Wytrzyszczewski raised a number of safety concerns including perceived issues about unrestricted access to aircraft doors; the level of seniority and experience of cabin crew working on flights, how hot drinks are served, and concerns relating to dimming cabin lights during boarding, taxi and takeoff.

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Photo Credit: British Airways

Wytrzyszczewski was allegedly told that he wasn’t “the moral compass for the company” and that he should “mind his own business”. He eventually resigned in April 2018 claiming constructive dismissal after his probation was extended following an alleged safety-related error.

The judge described a “troubling” email sent by Alex Cruz in March 2018 after he had received an email from Wytrzyszczewski following up his concerns. Cruz said of Wytrzyszczewski:

“…of course the real question is what it is that we need to do in our screening process in order to detect people of this profile.”

Judge Daniels, however, said he hadn’t seen anything in the whistleblowing email that would give a plausible explanation for Cruz’s “apparently negative” email.

“… such comments could support the drawing of an inference by the Tribunal that senior management of the respondent (British Airways) had a negative approach to whistleblowers,” the ruling continued.

In a statement, British Airways said its chief executive’s email had been taken out of context and pointed out that Cruz was never involved in matters relating to the employment tribunal. “The individual resigned from employment while his complaints were being investigated,” the statement continued.

In 2017, Cruz was accused of attempting to “gag staff” after an IT meltdown at the airline grounded hundreds of flights and stranded around 190,000 passengers. Cruz asked staffers to refrain from posting “live commentary” on social media about the debacle unless it was a message of support for employees working overtime to deal with the incident.

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