Dismissed Team Leader fails in unfair dismissal claim

Dismissed Team Leader fails in unfair dismissal claim

Dismissed Team Leader fails in unfair dismissal claim

The Fair Work Commission has upheld the termination of an employee, finding that there were reasonable grounds to support the termination, and rejected his claims that the dismissal was a result of staff conspiring against him.

Mr ‘PKM’ commenced employment with Regional Express Airline (Rex) in Sydney in the position of Store Officer on 7 November 2011, and was transferred to Melbourne on 17 May 2021 and promoted to the position of Team Leader. He was dismissed by Rex for conduct and performance-related issues on 9 October 2023.

Rex is one of Australia’s largest regional airlines, currently employing over 1200 people.

In evidence before Commissioner Sophie Mirabella, Rex claimed the dismissal was due to the following incidents by PKM;

  • Reckless driving at Melbourne airport, including damage to vehicles and engaging in unsafe practices, on several occasions;
  • Ignoring a lawful direction from an Engineer not to dispose of fluorescent tubes containing hazardous material in the general waste bin;
  • Incorrectly labelling the shelf life of various products;
  • Failing to train trainees in the correct method of disposing of expired tools;
  • Engaging in threatening and intimidating behaviour towards a Stores’ Team Leader.

In contrast, PKM claimed that his manager had no issues with him and suggested that a group of Rex employees, acting as conspirators, fabricated reasons for his dismissal while he was on leave.

Commissioner Mirabella determined that the majority of allegations against PKM were proven, supported by witness evidence, and detailed in nature, justifying his termination of employment.

She found no evidence to support his claims of a conspiracy.

The Commissioner noted that Rex had provided him with a Show Cause letter on 26 September 2023, followed by a Termination of Employment letter dated 9 October 2023.

PKM was given the opportunity to respond orally to the allegations on 18 August, 25 September and 9 October 2023 and replied in writing on multiple occasions, including 18 August, 25 August and 3 October 2023.

In dismissing the application, Commissioner Mirabella noted, “I am satisfied that Mr (M’s) dismissal was not harsh, nor was it unjust or unreasonable. It was for valid reasons. It was procedurally fair. None of the other relevant circumstances provides a basis for altering the outcome in Mr (M’s) favour”.

PKM v Regional Express Airline (U2023/10279) 20 February 2024

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For queries about misconduct, investigations, or other employment questions, please contact Dean Cameron at Workforce Advisory Lawyers – We Know Employment Law on 0417 622 178, 1300 WAL LAW or via email to dean.cameron@workforceadvisory.com.au

Disclaimer: This information is provided as general advice on workplace relations and employment law. It does not constitute legal advice, and it is always advisable to seek further information regarding specific workplace issues. Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.

Ref: 429.0424

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