Ms Wong Keat Ching and Ms Syazwani Suhaimy from ZUL RAFIQUE & partners’ Employment & Industrial Relations team, succeeded in defending Malaysia Airlines Berhad (‘MAB/Company’) in an unfair dismissal claim in the case of Ahmad Zil Syamil bin Sukhairi v Malaysia Airlines Berhad (Award No 1477 of 2020, Industrial Court).

The dispute before this Court is the claim by Ahmad Zil Syamil bin Sukhairi (‘Claimant’) alleging that he had been dismissed from his employment as a First Officer Pilot without just cause or excuse by Malaysia Airlines Berhad in 2018. The Claimant was suspended and was not allowed to enter the Company’s premises after MAB had issued him a show cause letter with two allegations of misconduct. Following this, the Claimant had submitted his written explanation denying the allegations alleged by the Company, however, he was terminated from his service two weeks later. The Claimant claimed that his dismissal was done without just cause or excuse and that it was done in bad faith, in breach of natural justice, unfair labour practice, and mala fide.

The Company, on the other hand, had asserted that the claimant’s dismissal was based on the alleged acts of misconduct committed by him. The alleged acts of misconduct committed by the Claimant include his absence from work without proper authorisation or justification whereby it was reported that he refused to accept the said "standby called up duty" and that he had failed to follow the standard operating procedures by going on medical leave at the very last minute. His actions had disrupted the operations and resulted in the delay of the said flight for 20 minutes. Hence, MAB contended that the dismissal of the Claimant was carried out with just cause or excuse.

In this case, the Industrial Court held that the Claimant being a First Officer Pilot, was well aware that it was a common practice that he had to be on standby at all times due to the Company's nature of business and operations. The Claimant's clear act of refusing to operate the flight was clear disobedience of the Company's instruction. The Court was also of the view that the Claimant’s conduct of refusing to fly had disrupted the Company's operations where the Company was forced to urgently find another First Officer to replace the Claimant. The Claimant had also committed a serious act of misconduct by not following the Company's notification procedure when the Claimant reported sick last minute when he was scheduled to operate a flight, which had resulted in the delay of the said flight. Thus, the Court upheld the Claimant’s dismissal and ruled that the dismissal was with just cause or excuse.

For more insight into this area of law, please contact our Partners in Employment & Industrial Relations Practice Group:
P Jayasingam
Wong Keat Ching
Thavaselvi Pararajasingam