Another look at Virgin wig sacking case

The Virgin Airlines style book.
The Virgin Airlines style book.

The legal battle over Virgin Airline's style bible for its cabin crew, The Look Book, is to go to another round.

The airline has won leave to appeal against an unfair dismissal decision in favour of a flight attendant who refused to cut his hair to conform to the style manual.

Fairfax reported this month that the airline struggled for 15 months to get its employee, David Taleski, to comply with the company's personal grooming manual, The Look Book, before sacking him in October 2011.

But Mr Taleski provided medical evidence that he felt compelled to wear his hair long because he was suffering from a body-image disorder and had even taken to the skies in a wig to try to solve the impasse.

But the industrial appeals authority Fair Work Australia ordered Virgin to give the attendant his job back this month. Fair Work commissioner Anna Lee Cribb found Mr Taleski's hairpiece could conform to The Look Book because the manual was effectively silent on the matter of wigs.

On January 23, the day before Mr Talseski was due to begin flying again, Virgin lodged an appeal with FWA challenging the decision on several grounds.

Virgin lawyers argued there were significant errors of fact in the commissioner's findings on the evidence, including her conclusions on medical certificates supplied by Mr Taleski to his bosses and the attendant's intention to comply with the company's Look Book.

But Mr Taleski's lawyer Maurice Addison argued the appeal was simply a rehash of the initial hearing, that Virgin had no grounds of appeal and it was simply challenging a conclusion it didn't like and the fresh matter should be thrown out.

But Melbourne-based Fair Work Australia Deputy President Gregory Smith has found Virgin has a worthwhile case for a review to be heard and ordered the appeal go ahead.

The case will be re-listed for hearing.

This story Another look at Virgin wig sacking case first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.