Rodger v ACT Government – Transport Canberra and City Services T/A ACTION (2018)
In January 2017, Mr Rodger, an employee of ACT Government – Transport Canberra and City Services T/A ACTION (Action), brought two explosive booster charges to work to show his colleagues.
Action investigated the matter and found that on a prior occasion, Mr Rodgers had brought two duelling pistols to work as part of his ‘show and tell’.
In June 2017, Action dismissed Mr Rodger claiming that in bringing the items to work, Mr Rodger created a work health and safety (WHS) risk to employees and others in the workplace, and brought the organisation’s reputation into disrepute.
Mr Rodger filed an unfair dismissal application.
Mr Rodger claimed the dismissal was unfair given his otherwise unblemished 17 years of service and that the circumstances did not warrant dismissal.
Mr Rodger claimed that he had made it known to his colleagues at the time that the items were not active and did not present a WHS risk. It was in dispute in the case whether the items were operational at the time Mr Rodger
brought them to the workplace.
The Fair Work Commission (FWC) held that irrespective of whether the items were active:
- employees could have had a legitimate fear for their personal safety;
- the presence of the items in the workplace had the potential to bring Action’s reputation into disrepute; and
- Mr Rodger had no legitimate reason to bring them to work.
The FWC held there was a valid reason for dismissal, which outweighed Mr Rodger’s long unblemished service. It dismissed Mr Rodger’s unfair dismissal application.
Mr Rodger created a risk to employees’ physical safety if the items were active and their psychological wellbeing whether the items were active or not. This case reinforces that employers can take appropriate action against employees for WHS breaches.