Published on Monday, September 10, 2007

Qantas flight attendant rostered on with pilot she alleged raped her

A report in Adelaide Now says that a Qantas flight attendant has been forced to work with a pilot she accused of raping her during an overnight stop, with the airline rostering the pair on the same shifts on domestic Queensland routes, despite the pilot allegedly confirming the woman's claims.

The case surfaced in Brisbane Industrial Magistrates Court, where Qantas is fighting a decision to award the flight attendant about $7000 in worker's compensation, with Q-COMP, Queensland's workers compensation regulator, awarding the money to the flight attendant and found her emotional trauma was aggravated by her continually being exposed to her alleged attacker at work.

"Particularly given that (the pilot) appears to have confirmed your allegations in some regard, there is no indication the employer has taken any steps to safeguard you from the alleged perpetrator," it found.

The woman was allegedly raped at a Cairns hotel during an overnight stop while working for Qantas's Sunstate Airlines in June 2005. She reported the incident to management several weeks later and lodged a rape complaint with police in January this year.

Court documents show the woman told management in August 2005 she had dinner and drinks with another attendant and the pilot. She alleged the pilot offered both women a liqueur after dinner, then left the restaurant and returned with a bottle of Benedictine. The flight attendant, still a Qantas employee, said she drank the liqueur but her colleague only had a sip. It was the last thing she could remember of the night until she woke up naked in the pilot's hotel room.

She allegedly found signs of sexual activity and later had a flashback of the night with her saying no to someone trying to have sex with her.

Days after the alleged attack, she met the pilot but he refused to discuss anything sex-related.

The woman requested a mediation with the pilot and told management she did not want to be rostered on with him, as seeing him made her "physically ill". After the meeting, a senior staff member wrote to the pilot on August 30, saying: "You have confirmed the events (the flight attendant) claims occurred in Cairns, as they were briefly outlined to you yesterday."

Court documents reveal the woman also claimed a superior talked her out of making a formal complaint as an investigation would take months and "it wouldn't be a positive outcome".

It is understood Qantas took no action against the pilot, who left the airline in February to work in Hong Kong. After mediation, court documents show, the flight attendant was rostered on with the pilot for day flights and overnight stays, despite her protests.

As a result, the flight attendant said she suffered trauma, anxiety, stress and anger and applied for worker's compensation from Qantas in October last year.

Qantas rejected the claim, saying the woman's injury was not work related as her shift had finished 10 hours before the alleged attack, the hotel was her part-time residence and during that night she had left hotel grounds.

In December, Qantas stood down the flight attendant and sent her for assessment with a company-appointed doctor. He diagnosed her as suffering from an adjustment disorder "which had been aggravated by repeated workplace exposure" to the pilot.

The flight attendant then filed an application with Q-COMP, appealing against the Qantas decision. "I trusted my management to support and protect me; this didn't happen," she said. She said management did not take the matter seriously and she was the subject of rumours. "I have been victimised, bullied and intimidated; I have not been shown any support but made to feel I am a liability," she said.

Q-COMP overturned the Qantas decision in March, finding she suffered psychological injury in the course of her employment. The regulator found: IT was unreasonable Qantas did not offer counselling to the woman.

Being forced to work with the pilot had worsened her condition as she relived the trauma of the attack.

The flight attendant and a Qantas spokesman declined to comment further as the matter was before a court.

Police are contacting the pilot for an interview.

Report by The Mole

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