State airline KLM acted legally when it sacked a worker with 25 years’ service for taking a bottle of mineral water from a plane, appeal court judges have ruled.
The 54-year-old was dismissed by KLM Catering Services in 2019 after a colleague saw him open a bottle of water and pour it into his flask.
He went to court claiming unfair dismissal, arguing he should be reinstated or paid more than €480,000 in compensation.
KLM Catering Services said he should have been aware of its no-tolerance policy on stealing supplies meant for passengers and the severe consequences of breaching the rules. The instant dismissal meant he had no right to claim state unemployment benefit.
The man said the bottle would otherwise have been thrown away because it had not been consumed during the flight. His lawyers said his judgment was impaired because he was concerned about the deteriorating health of his father at the time.
The appeal court in Amsterdam upheld the district court in Haarlem’s decision that the circumstances were outweighed by the company’s strict rules on corporate theft. KLM Catering Services was not obliged to compensate the man, the court found.
KLM received €3.4 billion in state loans and guarantees last June to keep it afloat during the coronavirus pandemic. One of the conditions attached was that it had to cut its wage bill.
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