A Brisbane electrical business run by a man who calls himself the ‘Nazi Sparky’ has been ordered to pay a former employee $11,400 after unfairly dismissing him.
Simon Hickey sacked the young apprentice after falsely accusing him of theft, in a process the Fair Work Commission described as “appalling”.
His abusive emails and messages to the worker and to the Commission are something to be believed.
Hickey refers to himself as the ‘Nazi Sparky’ on his website, and has a business logo that features the alt-right meme Pepe the Frog standing outside a cartoon Auschwitz wearing an SS uniform.
Smerff Electrical hit the headlines in 2017 when it was revealed the company was the sole corporate sponsor for the popular neo-Nazi website, ‘The Daily Stormer‘.
Jordan Lamacq started working for Hickey’s company Smerff Electrical at the beginning of 2017.
Later that year, he signed a written employment contract that the Commission said “makes for interesting reading”:
“You will be paid Weekly at the rate of $15 per hour. If you are unhappy with your wage, you can f*ck off. Nobody is forcing you to work here.”
In May 2016, Hickey sacked Mr Lamacq after accusing him of theft and misusing a company vehicle.
Hickey also said Mr Lamacq had taken a cash job for a Smerff customer without his approval, using the company vehicle and tools, and demanded he reveal the address of the cash job or leave the company.
Hickey said Mr Lamacq had carried out the cash job with a former employee who he also accused of thievery and whose details he also demanded.
What the Commission found
While deputy president Ingrid Asbury accepted that Mr Lamacq may have used company tools and the vehicle for the cash job, she found the allegations of theft unfounded, and described Hickey’s language as “appalling”.
“No employee should ever be subjected to the threats and abuse meted out by Mr Hickey in his text messages and the email sent to Mr Lamacq between 14 and 16 May 2018,” deputy president Asbury said.
“That an employer would subject an employee, much less an apprentice, to such language beggars belief.”
Hickey sent Mr Lamacq an email threatening police action over the alleged theft and warned that lodging a complaint with the Fair Work Ombudsman would be a waste of time:
“Live and learn dumb c*nt. I never would have picked you as a thief but now I know better. Here’s the number for fair work Australia 13 13 94. Do you know how many calls they get per day? Boo Hoo this c*nt fired me and he wasn’t paying me leave loading 12% or some sh*t.
“Do you know what these c*nts do about it? Nothing unless it’s a company worth prosecuting. They know they’ll get nothing from me and even if they could get me for something what would it be? Your wage which $7 over the award one year less difference in super they might tell me to owe you $30.
“Like I am going out of business anytime soon. Look what they thrown at me and I am still here. Fair Work gonna put me out of business LMAO.”
Deputy president Asbury said the reasons for Mr Lamacq’s dismissal were “within the spectrum” of valid reasons, but found that ultimately his dismissal was indefensible.
“Any legitimacy about the issues that Mr Hickey may have raised with Mr Lamacq is lost by virtue of being couched in terms so offensive that no employee should be expected to endure such treatment,” she said.
She also noted that private use of the company car and tools had previously been allowed and Mr Lamacq had not received an indication that the policy had changed.
She also found that Mr Lamacq’s decision not to share the details of the cash job were insufficient grounds for dismissal, given the manner in which Hickey demanded the information.
And she said Mr Lamacq was not notified of the reasons for his dismissal and was not given sufficient opportunity to respond to Hickey’s allegations.
Pointing to the employment contract which read, “If you are unhappy with your wage you can f*ck off,” Asbury said:
“I have not previously encountered a small business owner with such a deplorable attitude to human resource management.”
In conclusion, deputy president Asbury found there was no valid reason for dismissal, and that it was unfair.
“The manner in which the dismissal was carried out was devoid of procedural fairness and quite simply appalling,” she said.
“The dismissal was unjust because Mr Lamacq was not guilty of the misconduct alleged against him. The dismissal was unreasonable because it was decided on inferences that could not reasonably have been drawn from the material before the employer.”
She ordered Hickey to pay Mr Lamacq $11,400 – twelve weeks of wages.
What the experts say
Employment law expert Christiaan Van Oeveren from Industrial Relations Claims said he was appalled by the ‘Nazi Sparky’.
“This sort of conduct is outrageous and completely unacceptable, but unfortunately we see it all too often – young apprentices who are used and abused by rogue tradies,” he said.
“Whether it’s not paying them their proper wages or being abusive, it’s just not on, and unfortunately in many cases the young worker is too afraid to complain, or is worried they will lose their apprenticeship if they say something.”
Mr Van Oeveren said any worker who is being exploited or has been unfairly dismissed from employment should seek urgent legal advice.
“There is help available and experts who can take action on behalf of the worker, because no one should have to put up with abusive and threatening behaviour from their boss,” he said.
If you have been unfairly dismissed from employment, you may be eligible for compensation or reinstatement.
But you only have 21 days to file a claim, so don’t delay!
Call our team at Industrial Relations Claims today on
1300 045 466