A worker sacked for taking alcohol left over from a Melbourne Cup celebration has won his job back.
The Fair Work Commission found the worker’s actions did not amount to theft.
Worker who was sacked for taking alcohol wins job back
Jason Thomas worked as a Network and Engineering manager for Metwide Communications for five years.
In February 2018, his boss directed him to empty the contents of an esky left over from a Melbourne Cup function the previous year.
He subsequently found an unopened bottle of Jack Daniels, Jim Beam and also Johnny Walker Red as he emptied the esky in a dumpster.
He took the alcohol home.
Metwide dismissed Thomas for stealing company property, even though he genuinely believed the alcohol had been abandoned.
“QANTAS FLIGHT ATTENDANT LOSES UNFAIR DISMISSAL AFTER DRINKING VODKA”
Dismissal ‘a manifest injustice’
Thomas subsequently filed a claim for unfair dismissal, arguing Metwide had used the alleged theft as an excuse to get rid of him.
He claimed the real reason for his sacking involved his earlier refusal to sign a new contract with substantially reduced terms and conditions.
Deputy president Peter Sams found in favour of the worker.
He described Metwide’s decision to dismiss Thomas as “a manifest injustice”.
Furthermore, Mr Sams said of the alleged theft:
“Serious allegations of this kind, amounting to criminal activity, should not be thrown around … without any sound basis or proper investigation”.
The Commission did not consider Thomas’ conduct “theft” in the strict legal sense.
It also agreed the real reason the company dismissed him related to his refusal to sign the new contract.
Mr Sams subsequently ordered Metwide to reinstate Thomas and pay him lost wages.
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan says the case is a lesson for employers to always follow proper procedures when dismissing an employee.
“No matter the allegations against a worker, employers must always ensure procedural fairness,” he said.
“Theft is serious misconduct, and a valid reason for dismissal, however, employers must be sure of their facts before deciding to act.”
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