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Former Qantas employee’s fight against ‘grave injustice’ comes to end

A former Qantas customer service manager’s sexual harassment complaints against the airline has been dismissed, likely putting an end to her decades-long fight for justice.

user iconNaomi Neilson 28 August 2023 Big Law
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The Federal Court’s Justice Katrina Banks-Smith dismissed an application brought by Sara Rossi, a former Qantas employee who claimed she did not have the mental capacity in 2008 to enter into a deed that would bring an end to a claim for compensation.

Ms Rossi tried to have the deed set aside so she could bring an application under the Human Rights Commission Act alleging she was unlawfully discriminated between 20 and 33 years ago.

However, Justice Banks-Smith said she was not satisfied Ms Rossi was handicapped because of her mental health at the time.


Although Ms Rossi still contends her alleged treatment was a “grave injustice”, Justice Banks-Smith said this determination could mean Ms Rossi’s complaints “may not be further investigated”.

This is particularly in light of Ms Rossi’s failed attempts to bring an application of unlawful discrimination under the Human Rights Commission Act to the Federal Court in June 2020.

During that same application, Ms Rossi also failed to establish she had been pressured by her law firm, Maurice Blackburn, to enter into the deed despite her alleged “legal incapacity”.

According to the June 2020 judgment, Ms Rossi alleged she was the subject of sexual harassment by male colleagues that included being ignored, told that women with family responsibilities should not fly and being treated in an “aggressive and intimidating manner”.

During one alleged incident in April 2003, Ms Rossi said a male pilot took hold of a phone headset used to make announcements for the safety system, placed it against his groin “as if it were an erect penis, wiggled it around” and asked her, “have we tried this?”

Ms Rossi claimed that between 1995 and 2003, she was allegedly informed to be “personally vigilant” of drink spiking to avoid sexual assaults on layovers and allegedly told not to “complain about sexually harassing behaviour” while onboard a flight.