The ABC has been contacted by almost 200 former and current Flight Centre employees with complaints about their experiences working for the travel giant.
The complaints come after the national broadcaster published an investigation into the “low and confusing” method Flight Centre uses to pay its staff members, alleged excessive markups and its “cult-like” work culture.
Staff complained to the ABC of a widespread culture of bullying, drug use and harassment.
“It’s like Lord Of The Flies at times,” and “it was 100 per cent a cult,” were amongst the complaints.
“There were situations where I saw area leaders sleeping with staff members and rampant drug use,” one former worker told the ABC.
“There were certain stores in locations in a couple of our major cities where drugs were constantly on the premises. There was a drug drawer in one of the stores, where consultants were encouraged to do cocaine on site.”
Staff members also detailed sexually explicit conduct directed towards female employees at company events.
One staff member told the ABC his colleague has complained about sexual harassment but was not taken seriously as the behaviour was mirrored by male team leaders.
“People had gone to management about it, but it was overlooked because that was part of what was accepted at Flight Centre,” he said.
“I think ‘work hard, play hard’ was taken to a really unacceptable level. I’ve worked at other sales companies and nothing really compares to what I saw at Flight Centre.”
Flight Centre told the ABC the behaviour alleged to have taken place is “strictly forbidden under our workplace policies and our code of conduct. Investigations would be launched and action would be taken if complaints of this nature were made directly or via our whistleblowers’ hotline.”
An ex-Flight Centre employee also complained that she was bullied upon becoming pregnant.
“When I approached my area leader to tell her [of the pregnancy], her response was ‘don’t tell me you’re f***ing pregnant’,” she said.
“From then on, I was treated badly up until the week before my baby was due. I suffered so much anxiety that my midwife told me I should leave my job. Eventually, when my daughter was four months old, I quit.”
Flight Centre boss Graham ‘Skroo’ Turner has encouraged staff to post their concerns on the ABC Facebook page, with dozens of staff members expressed their support for the company.
“Flight Centre employs about 20,000 people globally and about 10,000 people in Australia. We are surprised and concerned that some past and present employees have chosen to contact you,” a Flight Centre spokesperson told the ABC.
“We have also been contacted by a much larger number of past and present employees who say they have not experienced anything like this and that it does not reflect the company’s culture.”