How Many Off-Duty Peach Martinis Does It Take to Get You Sacked?

Qantas flight attendant, Luke Urso, was sacked after knocking back two peach martinis and three gin and tonics at a New York bar the night before a flight.

On the night of the incident, Mr Urso was found collapsed on the floor of the bar toilets in a pool of vomit. An ambulance was called, and Mr Urso was taken to Greenwich hospital, where his blood alcohol level was recorded at 0.205. The bill for Mr Urso’s short hospital visit totaled $20,000.00, which was paid by Qantas.

After he was discharged, Mr Urso called in sick for his 5.10pm flight to Loss Angeles, claiming he was too unwell to work. He was later sacked from his position.

Mr Urso brought an unfair dismissal claim with the Fair Work Commission (FWC) in an attempt to get his “dream job” back.

In his application, Mr Urso claimed that he would regularly drink five drinks in an evening and that he believed that someone had spiked his drink.

FWC Deputy President, Lyndal Dean, found that Mr Urso’s dismissal was not unfair. She stated that Mr Urso understood that he was required to “… be ready and able to attend work the following day when he attended the bar.”

She found that Mr Urso’s conduct sufficiently breached Quantas’ policies and that the airline was “… entitled to be able to have trust and confidence that their flight attendants can perform their safety critical roles in a safe manner.”

Take-home message for employers:

  1. Make your policies known

It’s important for employers to let their employees enjoy their lives outside of work. However, the glazed eyes and poor concentration that come with a party-prone employee stifle productivity and can be a total liability.

So how do you curb excessive off-duty drinking? Unfortunately, moderating out-of-work behaviour is notoriously difficult. If you want to be clear about how many Thursday night peach martinis are too many for your employee to perform at work the next day, make sure you have clear company policies around alcohol consumption. On top of this, make sure your employees are familiar with the policies and understand what is and isn’t acceptable.

  1. Be proactive

Encouraging staff to take part in initiatives such as “Febfast” and “Dry July” can help combat unhealthy drinking habits in your workplace. However, it ‘s unlikely that you will be able to force you staff to take part.

Take-home message for employees:

  1. Don’t risk it

It’s not worth losing your job over a night of drinking that ended over the toilet bowl. If you’re going out for mid-week drinks, monitor your intake carefully and stop well before your limit. Making sure you have a meal with your drinks and ensuring you wrap the evening up with enough time for a full-nights rest are key to preventing that incapacitating hangover.

  1. Social media will find you out

You may think you’ll get away with a sneaky Monday off after a Sunday-sesh that got a little out-of-hand. However, social media is increasingly catching employees out. It only takes one colleague to view that Instagram story of you drunkenly singing “Africa” by Toto with the boys and your secret is exposed.


Want to know more about Employment Law? Looking for an experienced solicitor in Newcastle, Sydney or the Hunter to assist you with your Employment Law matter? Call us on (02) 4929 7002, email us or complete an enquiry form.


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