A New Light Shed on Employee Dismissal.
Steri-Flow Filtration Systems (Aust) Pty Ltd v Craig Erskine (2013) sheds a new light on the dismissal of employees based on dishonesty. In this case, the employee, Mr Erskine, was also sole owner and director of another company. The employee’s company used valuable property of his employer for his own company’s benefit and to his employer’s detriment, without authorisation.
The employer investigated the matter, including seeking explanations and relevant documents from the employee and others, and reviewing the relevant law. The employee was dishonest about the matter when confronted by his employer.
As a result of its investigation, the employer formed a belief that the employee’s conduct was sufficiently serious to justify immediate dismissal, and summarily dismissed the employee. The termination letter clearly set out the employer’s belief about the conduct of the employee and its conclusion that the conduct amounted to serious misconduct. The termination letter also explained how the employer had formed the belief.
The Full Bench of the FWC found that the letter was useful evidence about the state of mind of the employer at the time of the dismissal. The employer successfully relied on the termination letter to establish that it had reasonable grounds for holding its belief about the employee’s conduct.
The Full Bench of the Commission found that the grounds were reasonable because the investigation conducted by the employer was reasonable. It also highlighted that such conflicts of interest and dishonesty generally justify summary dismissal.
If you believe you have been unfairly dismissed in your line of work, or you have an issue that mirrors the Steri-Flow vs Erskine case, please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1300 HATZIS (1300 428 947) .