Virgin pilot details Hrdlicka bullying claims

He also alleges that Hrdlicka announced the airline had consulted with the Australian Federation of Air Pilots, which was not supportive of its first officers. The union denied this claim by Hrdlicka.

Fitzgerald allegedly he was approached by the chief operating officer, Stuart Aggs, who stated that the CEO demanded Fitzgerald identify who he spoke to at the union or Aggs would lose his job.

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In his claim, the former chief pilot also recalled a meeting with Hrdlicka where she allegedly accused him of not being good at communicating with more junior staff.

Fitzgerald is alleged that when he responded that he had mentored hundreds of first officers during his career, Hrdlicka replied: “Oh come on Mike, no BS, you’re just like all the other senior flight ops managers that I had to deal with at Jetstar ; you’re only concerned about the senior guys.”

Fitzgerald also alleges he was held responsible for a $4 million cost blowout in Virgin’s 2020/21 Christmas-New Year flight schedule

“to which the CEO herself had directed additional flights”.

The statement of claim alleges the incidents had a serious impact on Fitzgerald’s mental health.

“In consequence of the aforementioned acts of workplace bullying, [Mr Fitzgerald] felt undervalued and lost all self-esteem. He suffered depression and anxiety,” the document said.

Fitzgerald took stress leave in July 2021 after being told he would be placed on a performance management program. He alleges he was told by Aggs in October 2021 that Hrdlicka had lost confidence in him and he should move on. He received redundancy options via a text message a week later. He was dismissed on March 1.

A spokesperson for Virgin said Fitzgerald’s employment was terminated after a number of independent assessments of his fitness to work.

“He was treated fairly and was not bullied,” the spokesperson said.

“We will vigorously defend the matter.”

The statement of claim was filed in the Federal Circuit Court. The matter will head to mediation in November before a hearing in December.

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