Melbourne man wins $10,000 payout after being sacked for searching for new job at work

Posted on Nov 16, 2017 by Graham WynnGraham Wynn

Melbourne man wins $10,000 payout after being sacked for searching for new job at work

A question around what is ethical, appropriate or legal has once again come up, as man who was sacked for looking for a job while at work, has won his unfair dismissal claim.

A MELBOURNE man has scored a $10,000 payout from his former workplace after he was sacked for using office resources to search for a new job.
The man, who worked as a graphic designer at Melbourne traffic management business Amber Traffic Management, was fired in May for using his work phone and office internet during his job search.

It was also claimed the man sent work files to his private email account.The onus was on the company to have in their contracts that any work creations were the property of the company and could not be sued for personal use. This would have covered them.
However, the Fair Work Commission ruled in favour of the employee’s unfair dismissal claim, and ordered the business to pay $10,000 in compensation.
Before he was dismissed, the man was confronted by his boss about copying work files and emailing them to his personal email account and for conducting personal matters on the clock.

The man said he deleted the emails, but claimed his boss didn’t believe him.
He then accused his employer of invasion of privacy. After the confrontation, the man left the office — and was then sacked via a text message.
The graphic designer said his performance was also often criticised at work and that his employer had previously threatened to sack him during the 14 months he worked at the business.

Amber Traffic Management told the commission the man’s termination came about “as a result of your serious misconduct and continuous failure to perform to expected standards, along with wilful or deliberate behaviour … inconsistent with the continuation of your contract of employment”.
Fair Work Commissioner Nicholas Wilson found the man did not intentionally breach company policies by sending work files to his private email and that there was no evidence that “even if they were [sent to a third party] that their distribution would have caused significant or irreparable detriment” to the company.

“[The employee] puts forward that he was looking for a new job and needed samples of his work for his employment folio,” Mr Wilson said.
“Due to his inexperience as an employee he did not realise that he could not use his work from Amber Traffic Management in that way … The mere fact of [the employee] having endeavoured to prepare a work folio for consideration by prospective future employers, in and of itself is not a reasonable ground for his immediate dismissal.”
As reinstatement would be inappropriate, Mr Wilson ordered Amber Traffic Management to pay $10,374 in compensation.

What this highlights is the need for tight employment contracts around what is work property, what can be done with work property, as well as what access employer has to company issued mobiles, laptops etc..