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September 4 2018

Pilot who listed Star Wars character as reference must repay training costs

People Management reports how Lawyers have sounded fresh warnings about the importance of checking references properly, after a pilot was found by a tribunal to have used a pseudonym for a Star Wars villain on an application form. 

Birmingham Employment Tribunal dismissed Mr N F M’s claims against West Atlantic. However, it allowed the airline’s counterclaims and told the pilot to pay back almost £5,000 in training costs. The pilot had successfully applied for a position with the commercial freight airline operator as a captain. 

But court documents stated that the pilot, who did not attend the tribunal hearing, had “provided a false reference”. The reference on his application “purported to be from Desilijic Tiure”, an alternative name for Star Wars character Jabba the Hutt. 

The tribunal heard that, when West Atlantic discovered this, it confronted the employee, who “initially denied but, ultimately, largely admitted” the false referee. West Atlantic offered him the opportunity to resign on 30 June 2017, which he did. 

The pilot claimed three months’ notice pay, his contractual notice entitlement. West Atlantic counterclaimed for recovery of his training costs, as he had signed an agreement stating that these were repayable if he was terminated within the first six months of his employment. 

The tribunal dismissed the pilot’s claim but allowed West Atlantic’s counterclaim.