Month in Review – January 2015


The Australia day aftermath generally signals the return of life to post-holiday normality, and this week in employment law was no exception to that rule.

In the often controversial world of Unfair Dismissal at the Fair Work Commission, three cases caught our interest, each of them going the way of the employer.  In McDaid v Future Engineering, a a dismissal was upheld in relation to poor employee conduct at a Christmas Party.  Mr McDaid had thrown a fellow employee, fully clothed, into a swimming pool.  This was held to be a valid reason for the dismissal.   In Toll Holdings v Johnpulle, the full bench overturned a first instance decision that a dismissal was unfair, and upheld a dismissal, in a case where racist comments had been made by the employer.  The full Bench held that prior comments the employee had been counselled for should be taken into account as forming part of a ‘pattern of unacceptable behaviour’.  Finally, in a very similar case of Horner v Kailis Bros, the commission held that warnings for similar previous conduct should be taken into account.  In this instance, the employee had sworn at and verbally abused his supervisor.  Our key contributor, Helen Carter, spoke with Ross Greenwood on 2GB about this case during the week. 

In the world of Sport and Employment, Essendon Football Club have been fined $200,000 for a breach of workplace safety laws in respect of their supplements program.   Many would argue that the club should have taken more responsibility, and has gotten off quite easy compared to the 34 past and present players that have been banned for 12 months.   We also eagerly await the Sydney Roosters and NRL’s response to the Mitchell Pearce Australia Day fiasco.  The NRL clubs have been coming down very hard on player conduct off the pitch.  But let’s hope they don’t lose sight of the basic level of procedural fairness that all employers owe their employees.  Just because there is video evidence, the Roosters can’t afford to throw procedure out the window.

Gearing up for the general election later in the year, Bill Shorten has released a suite of workplace policies, designed to protect workers from being ripped off by ‘dodgy bosses’.

On our blog, Alecia Thompson wrote about the Dick Smith Employees.  While public concern has been widespread for the duped owners of gift cards and online purchases, sympathy must extend first to the employees who face losing their job after the crash of Dick Smith.  Brian Powles discussed Parental Leave and the double dipping issue.  Are the savings the Coalition proposes actually going to be realised?  And at what cost?


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