Termination – Unfair Dismissal

Termination – Unfair Dismissal

A forklift driver has won an unfair dismissal case against Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA) after he was terminated earlier this year over an incident where he told another employee to “bugger off”.

The employee  was driving a forklift when he was involved in a near-miss incident with another employee who had walked across the path of the moving vehicle.

Naturally there were differing accounts over what exactly was said during the exchange, but FWC found at minimum, the employee had told his co-worker to “bugger off and that what he had done was bloody stupid”.

His employer terminated the employee on grounds of unsatisfactory conduct, alleging he had engaged in inappropriate conduct by acting in an intimidatory and threatening manner, and using offensive language towards another employee.

FWC found that apart from the incident with the forklift, there was no evidence the employee had behaved inappropriately towards others during his employment, which important to note in the overall view of the matter.

So FWC found “The decision to terminate his employment was disproportionate to his conduct” and they stated the termination was “harsh, unjust and unreasonable,”

What again stands out is the need to see what factors might mitigate. In this case, FWC found the nature of the incident (high stress) & culture generally contributed to the language.

We at HR Central can play a vital role in providing advice in a situation like this. Our considerable experience in dealing with unfair dismissal claims means we can avoid outcomes like this one.

Michael O'Shaughnessy

Michael is a specialist in all things HR. With vast HR experience in the USA and Australia, Michael brings a wealth of knowledge and advice to HR Central. When he's not blogging for HR Central you can find him out for dinner in one of Melbourne's newest restaurants.

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