A recent decision by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) demonstrates that gross and willful misconduct may override the need to comply with formal dismissal procedures. The case surrounded a 20-year-old employee of Ace Bottle Printers Pty Ltd who was summarily dismissed after his employer saw video footage of the employee performing forklift burnouts at work. A complaint was bought that the dismissal was unfair due to the employee’s mental health, of which the employer was aware and the fact that another colleague involved in the incident had not been reprimanded. It was also put forward that the employees should not have been left unsupervised.
There were evident procedural shortcomings in the manner of dismissal. However, the FWC ultimately upheld it’s fairness based on the extreme nature of the employees conduct as well as his prior behaviour which encompassed violence, drunkenness and property damage. The FWC found that there could be no grounds to justify the level of misconduct and as a result the dismissal was not unjust or unreasonable. In cases of extreme behaviour it is imperative that employers contact M + E if placed in a similar situation.