Home - Offensive employee conduct still requires procedural fairness
back to Case Law
November 2021

Offensive employee conduct still requires procedural fairness

Offensive employee conduct still requires procedural fairness

The Case

Bridge v Globe Bottleshops Pty Ltd T/A Wellington Beer Wine and Spirits (2021)

Globe Bottleshops Pty Ltd (Globe) employed Mr Bridge as a store manager. In March 2021, a customer made an allegation of sexual harassment against Mr Bridge. The customer claimed he said to her, “Would you like a r##t?”, then smirked and said, “receipt”. Mr Bridge was stood down on full pay while an investigation into the allegation took place. Mr Bridge denied the allegation, saying it was unsubstantiated and anonymous.

Globe gave Mr Bridge a further opportunity to respond. Mr Bridge requested the following information be provided before he would respond:

  • the identity of the customer making the allegation;
  • details about what the customer had purchased that required him to issue a receipt; and
  • a copy of the CCTV footage of the incident.

Globe refused Mr Bridge’s requests for information. Mr Bridge therefore stated that he could not provide any further response other than to maintain his denial of the incident.

Globe summarily terminated Mr Bridge’s employment for serious misconduct. Globe relied, among other things, on the fact that Mr Bridge had received previous warnings for offensive conduct.

Mr Bridge lodged an unfair dismissal claim in the Fair Work Commission (FWC).

The Verdict

The FWC held that Globe:

  • had a valid reason for Mr Bridge’s dismissal and a reasonable person would have known the customer was likely to feel harassed;
  • had followed a disastrous procedural process; should have provided the requested additional information to Mr Bridge;
  • denied Mr Bridge the opportunity to fully and properly respond to the allegation;
  • denied Mr Bridge the opportunity to show cause why his employment should not be terminated; and
  • should compensate Mr Bridge in the amount of $3,000 for the additional 2 weeks it would have taken Globe to follow a procedurally fair termination process.

The Lessons

While the final compensation awarded in this matter was relatively low, the failure by Globe to implement a procedurally fair termination process resulted in a time-consuming unfair dismissal claim that went to final hearing.

Globe could have reduced this risk by providing Mr Bridge with sufficient information and particulars to enable him to properly respond to the allegation, and an opportunity to show cause why his employment should not be terminated.

0

In your cart

item

$0

View cart
Checkout
View Cart
Copied