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Mechanic Who Brought Explosives And Guns To Work Loses Unfair Dismissal

Mechanic who brought explosives and guns to work loses unfair dismissal

A mechanic who was fired after bringing explosives and a pair of duelling pistols to work has lost his unfair dismissal claim.

The Fair Work Commission found that he created a risk to safety by bringing the items to the workplace.

The details

Chris Rodger had worked for Transport Canberra for 17 years when he brought an explosive booster charge to work, allegedly telling a co-worker “it would blow a car in two” in January 2017.

He allegedly then rolled the explosive device across the floor in the direction of another colleague.

It was also alleged he had previously 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, concluding that Mr Rodger had put the health and safety of himself and colleagues at risk.

The matter was also referred to the Australian Federal Police.

The worker’s case

Mr Rodger filed an unfair dismissal claim, denying his conduct posed a “genuine and serious risk” to health and safety and that it was not uncommon for people to bring firearms, knives and alcohol in to show co-workers.

He told the Fair Work Commission that the explosives were “inert” and that he had brought them to work because he thought they would help him make friends after he had experienced workplace bullying.

Mr Rodger argued his chances of finding other work in Canberra with his skill set were limited, and that he had an unblemished 17 year record working for Transport Canberra, and that dismissal was too harsh a consequence.

What the Commission found

In his judgement, deputy president John Kovacic acknowledged Mr Rodger’s longstanding employment but said 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 deputy president said.

“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 Mr 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, expect to lose your job.”

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