Calling your boss ‘a f*cking wanker’ is not a valid reason for dismissal, according to the Fair Work Commission.
Commissioner Paula Spencer found a woman’s foul language and unacceptable behaviour did not amount to serious misconduct.
Ms Spencer also found the employer failed to follow proper procedures of fairness, entitling her to compensation.
‘Have fun in this shithole of a company’
The 56 year-old woman worked as a senior recruiter for labour hire firm Celotti Workforce located in Darwin.
In January, management stood her down with pay while it investigated complaints about her. In response, she told her boss loudly that is was a “c**t act”.
The complaints about her involved her use of obscene language and making disparaging comments about management.
She also allegedly belittled and treated junior employees disrespectfully.
Despite being told to leave immediately when suspended, she also told other staff to “have fun in this shithole of a company girls”.
The company sacked her a week later, accusing her of workplace bullying.
The Commissioner heard the recruiter regularly muttered under her breath “you are a f**ing wanker” during morning meetings with the manager of the company.
She also allegedly made comments to other staff about the manager such as “look at his pants, a real man would have a bulge”.
While the recruiter denied many of the allegations, she did confess to calling him a misogynist and wanker.
Allegedly protecting younger staff
However, the woman argued she had been trying to protect younger staff members.
She claimed the younger staff members had told her that the boss “creeped them out” at a staff Christmas party, and made them feel uncomfortable around him.
“They were not happy with the way he was touching their arms and putting his arm around them.
“I had been concerned at the way he was looking at the younger female members of the staff in the office prior to this event.”
The recruiter told staff she would protect them, adding “don’t worry about it, he is just a wanker”.
However, staff complained to management that the woman bullied junior employees.
They said she allegedly called one a “f**king bitch” and another a “little bitch”.
One junior employee told the Commission how the woman would regularly burp or cough in her face, and later laugh about it.
Calling your boss ‘a wanker’ not a valid reason for dismissal
The Fair Work Commission found the woman harboured particular “disdain” for her direct supervisor and actively sought to undermine his authority.
She did this by making inappropriate comments around other staff.
Commissioner Spencer described her conduct as “divisive” and “intimidating” and “passive aggressive” towards junior staff and the foul language as “unacceptable”.
However, Commissioner Paula Spencer ruled it failed to meet the threshold for serious misconduct.
“It affected the wellbeing of the other employees of the workplace, contrary to the duty of care owed to them in their employment, but did not cause serious and imminent risk to the health and safety of employees or to the reputation, viability or profitability of the employer’s business.”
She also ruled the dismissal unfair due to procedural flaws.
The woman wanted re-instatement, however, Commissioner Spencer found that inappropriate.
Instead, she ordered Celotti Workforce to pay the recruiter $6,000 – the equivalent of four weeks pay in lieu of notice.
The woman has not worked since she was fired from the position.
Commissioner Spencer noted the woman’s failure to update her LinkedIn or Seek profile while job hunting was “inconsistent with a job search by a recruiter”.
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