A former employee of high profile fashion designer Alex Perry who was sacked for swearing and using threatening language has lost his unfair dismissal claim, after the Fair Work Commission found he had falsely accused his boss of making sexist comments.
Deputy president Peter Sams rejected the worker’s evidence about Mr Perry, describing it as “untruthful”.
Mr Sams was also scathing of the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union, which represented the worker, for “defending the indefensible”.
“In the face of such overwhelming cogent and corroborative evidence, it is somewhat surprising to me that the union which … comprises 98 per cent women members, working in poor sweatshop conditions, would have represented a person who has, at best, little respect for women,” Mr Sams said.
Sirajul Bashir was employed by Alex Perry in 2013 as a Custom Made Pattern Maker/Sample Machinist.
Mr Perry’s high-end designs have reportedly been worn by celebrities including Jennifer Lopez, Miranda Kerr, Kim Kardashian, Sandra Bullock and Princess Mary of Denmark.
Mr Bashir was sacked in September 2018 for serious misconduct for threatening and aggressive behaviour towards other staff.
Among the allegations were that he had yelled at a female colleague who commented on his workmanship, saying “I’ll f–k you up the arse”.
The female employee, aged 65, replied: “No you won’t. I’m not your wife.”
When he was confronted with examples of poor workmanship on garments that were “not up to scratch”, Mr Bashir became aggressive “jabbing his finger” at a worker, shouting, “These are perfect”, “I am the best machinist here. Who are you?” while hitting the samples rack.
He had also allegedly threatened to “f–king slap” a female co-worker.
What the Commission heard
Mr Perry told the Commission that he was concerned that it was not the first time Mr Bashir had behaved aggressively and had threatened female co-workers.
Mr Perry said that, on a previous occasion, the machinist had said “sometimes women just need a slap”.
Seeking reinstatement and compensation, Mr Bashir told the Commission that it was Mr Perry who made threatening and inappropriate comments.
He claimed that “swearing and banter was commonplace in the office”, and that Mr Perry had called a colleague a “bitch” whom he would “get rid of” and that “some women need a slapping from time to time”.
Mr Perry strenuously denied the claims.
Deputy president Sams rejected the machinist’s evidence as untrue, saying it lacked credibility and was designed to minimise his own threat to slap a co-worker.
“I accept Mr Perry’s evidence and reject the applicant’s evidence as untruthful,” Mr Sams said.
In the end, Mr Sams ruled that Mr Bashir’s dismissal was not unfair, harsh, unjust or unreasonable.
Union tried ‘creating a silk purse out of a sow’s ear’
Mr Sams saved his harshest criticism for the CFMMEU, which had represented Mr Bashir through its textile arm, finding that it had “struggled to defend the indefensible” and had tried to “build a case akin to creating a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”.
“It is little wonder that the applicant’s case focused almost entirely on a few insignificant procedural points and a poor work performance warning, which was completely unrelated and irrelevant to the reasons for the applicant’s dismissal, being his aggressive, threatening and intimidatory behaviour towards fellow women co-workers,” Mr Sams said.
Lesson for workers
Industrial relations advocate Miles Heffernan from Industrial Relations Claims said the case is a lesson for workers when deciding whether to make a claim for unfair dismissal.
“Unless you have a strong case that your sacking was unfair, unjust or unreasonable, you are wasting your time and money taking a claim of unfair dismissal to the Fair Work Commission,” he said.
“It’s worth remembering that while almost all unfair dismissal applications are settled during the conciliation process, the ones that go through to a full hearing almost always end up in the employer’s favour.”
Of the 192 applications for unfair dismissal that resulted in a judgement by the Fair Work Commission between October and December 2018, 157, or more than four out of five were thrown out.
Just 35 judgements went the way of the worker, and only 21 resulted in an order of compensation.
“That’s why it’s very important to seek urgent legal advice if you believe you have been unfairly dismissed from employment – because we can tell you if you’ve got a genuine case and advise you of the best options moving forward,” Mr Heffernan said.
If you believe you have been sacked unfairly, you only have 21 days from the date of your dismissal to lodge a claim for unfair dismissal.
If you have been unfairly dismissed from employment, you may be entitled to compensation or reinstatement.
For help and advice, please call our specialist team at Industrial Relations Claims today on
1300 853 837
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