A mechanic sacked for bringing explosives and a pair of duelling pistols to work has lost his unfair dismissal claim.
The Fair Work Commission found the worker created a risk to safety by bringing the items to the workplace.
Mechanic loses unfair dismissal
Chris Rodger worked for Transport Canberra for 17 years before the incidents happened.
Firstly, he brought an explosive booster charge to work, allegedly telling a co-worker “it would blow a car in two” in January 2017.
He then allegedly rolled the explosive device across the floor in the direction of another colleague.
Secondly, he brought black powder duelling pistols, a .22 calibre rifle and a shotgun to work.
Transport Canberra terminated his employment following an investigation into the matter.
The company concluded Rodger had engaged in serious misconduct by putting the health and safety of himself and colleagues at risk.
Management also referred the matter to the Australian Federal Police.
The worker’s case
Rodger filed an unfair dismissal claim, denying his conduct posed a “genuine and serious risk” to health and safety.
He also argued it had not been uncommon for other people to bring firearms, knives and also alcohol to work to show colleagues.
Rodger described the explosives as “inert”.
Furthermore, he said he brought them to work because he thought they would help him make friends after he had experienced workplace bullying.
Rodger also described his chances of finding other work in Canberra with his skill set as “limited”.
Finally, he highlighted is 17-year unblemished record working for Transport Canberra.
He therefore argued his dismissal had been too harsh a consequence.
What the Commission found
Deputy president John Kovacic noted Rodger’s longstanding employment, however, he also found his actions still justified dismissal.
“Whether the booster charges were inert and the duelling pistols were inoperable does not, in my view, diminish the gravity of … conduct in bringing those items into the workplace.
“The fact of the matter is he had no legitimate reason to do so, and by doing so he created a risk to safety given the possibility that the items were live or operable.”
What the experts say
Miles Heffernan, Litigation Director at Industrial Relations Claims, described Rodger’s conduct as “stupid”.
“Guns and bombs make people feel unsafe, and are completely unacceptable to have in most workplaces,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter if the devices are ‘inert’ or if they work or not, the fact is these things make people feel scared, and should never be brought to work.
“If you are going to bring guns or knives or alcohol to work to show off to your colleagues, then expect to lose your job.”
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