An Iraqi embassy chauffeur has won his unfair dismissal case, after he was sacked for missing work due to illness.
Deputy President John Kovacic found the embassy had no valid reason for the dismissal.
As a result, he ordered it to pay the driver $USD8,500 compensation.
Iraqi Embassy chauffeur refused to drive to Newcastle
Ahmed Kenawy worked as the personal chauffeur to a top Iraqi diplomat based in Canberra.
He claimed he was unfairly dismissed when he refused to drive the Ambassador from Canberra to Sydney, Sydney to Newcastle and back.
He refused due to a medical condition affecting his back.
Kenawy told the Commission through an interpreter:
“I told him I wasn’t able to do so because I was having disc problems in my back and could not drive for that extended period.
“So I told them I wasn’t able to drive, and I had a medical certificate to say I could not drive for more than two to three hours.”
Embassy officials immediately directed Kenawy to sign a letter stating he could no longer work due to a medical condition.
However, he refused, instead signing a letter stating the Ambassador requested his resignation.
Kenawy argued the embassy had no valid reason to ask for his resignation.
And furthermore, he noted the embassy had not given him any written or verbal warnings regarding his performance.
Embassy claims driver not an employee
The Embassy didn’t provide any written submissions or evidence to the Commission.
Additionally, it did not challenge the testimony given by Kenawy.
Official Ahmed Kareem did, however, try to argue the embassy did not employ Kenawy.
He claimed the driver worked for the Ambassador under a personal contract, despite the fact there is no written contract.
“The Ambassador employed him on the basis that he would be flexible and take the Ambassador anywhere he wants.”
No valid reason for dismissal
In the end, deputy president Kovacic found the embassy did not have a valid reason for the dismissal.
“Mr Kenawy was not notified of the reason for his dismissal and was not given an opportunity to respond to any concerns which [the Embassy] may have had regarding his capacity or conduct.
“I find that Mr Kenawy’s dismissal was unjust and unreasonable.”
Unfair dismissal wrong claim to make in cases of discrimination
Miles Heffernan, Director of Litigation at IR Claims, says the embassy got off lightly.
“If we were representing Mr Kenawy, we would have filed a general protections dismissal claim, or a discrimination claim under state law,” he said.
“We believe that would have tripled his compensation.
“In addition, we would have sued the embassy and all of the individuals involved, subject of course to diplomatic shield laws.”
Please call our team at Industrial Relations Claims today on
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