Posts: Investigations

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Commission finds employer’s suspicion of an employee’s misconduct was not a valid reason for dismissal

Under suspicion

If considering taking disciplinary action due to an employee’s misconduct, it is critical that an employer makes a decision based on wrongdoing as opposed to a mere suspicion of wrongdoing.


Court orders jail term for owner-operator who failed to comply with orders resulting from Fair Work action

Jailhouse Rock

In June 2015, Judge Jarrett of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia found that a Northern Queensland-based tour company and its owner had underpaid five employees and contravened the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).


The importance of correctly characterising employee conduct

In the driver’s sheet

Employers regularly have to deal with issues relating to employee behaviour, work performance and misconduct.


College accepts responsibility for death of football player from heatstroke

WHS and Sport

The tragic death of a 19 year old college football player in the USA serves as a reminder to sporting organisations at all levels about the duty of care owed to their players.


Flight attendant’s claim that excessive drinking was not his fault rejected by FWC in unfair dismissal case

Flight of fancy

Fair Work Commission (FWC) considered whether a flight attendant was unfairly dismissed after he failed to attend for work following a night out in New York.


Vehicle services attendant dismissed for lying on his CV

The truth Hertz

Employers are often required to exercise a significant degree of trust and reliance in job candidates, believing that they will be truthful in recruitment processes.


What to do when a client or host employer won’t work with an employee

You’re banned

Employee, worker, talent, resource, temp, contractor – there is an abundance of terms used to describe the people that perform work in a workplace.


Employer ordered to advise employees about FWC’s stop-bullying orders

Show and Tell

The purpose of the Fair Work Commission’s anti-bullying jurisdiction is not to punish bullies or to compensate an individual who has been bullied but to prevent future bullying in the workplace.


FWC finds employee fairly dismissed for refusing to hand over investigation evidence

Hand it over

When an employee refuses to hand over information or evidence that the employer considers is relevant to an investigation, a formal direction may be issued.


FWC recognises importance of confidentiality in employer investigations

Confidentiality in investigations

Employers will make every effort to maintain confidentiality when it comes to employees who give evidence as part of an investigation. However, should a matter eventually end up before the Fair Work Commission (or similar tribunal) there is no guarantee that the confidentiality will be upheld.


Investigation reports and legal privilege

For your eyes only

Employers often seek assistance or advice from their lawyers when a sufficiently serious workplace complaint (such as fraud, sexual harassment or bullying) is made. Lawyers may be asked to conduct an investigation into the allegations and prepare a “Confidential and Privileged” report for the employer, the findings of which may be used later in a disciplinary process.


Conducting investigations

Are you in or out?

One of the first decisions to be made by an employer when confronted with a situation warranting investigation is whether the matter can be adequately investigated internally or whether investigation by an independent third party is warranted.


Is your investigation process flexible enough?

One size does not fit all

The Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC)’s decision in East Coast Pipeline Pty Ltd v Workers Compensation Regulator [2016] QIRC 101 (East Coast Case) suggests to employers that internal investigations should be both in accordance with the applicable policy and flexible enough to adapt to the situation rather than simply follow a rigid process that may not fit the circumstances.


WCI: NSW – Workplace Conduct Investigation

What happens when the relationship of trust necessary between an employer and an employee breaks down?

In Shakir v Department of Family and Community Services [2017] NSWIRComm 1040, Commissioner Newall upheld the dismissal of an employee but criticised the employer for relying on conclusions made in an investigation report that were factually wrong.


Correctional services officer reinstated following inmate escape

The one that got away

In a recent decision of the NSW Industrial Relations Commission (NSW IRC), a senior corrective services officer (the Employee) was reinstated following his dismissal for involvement in an incident which lead to the escape of a maximum security inmate (Collins v Industrial Relations Secretary on behalf of the Department of Justice (Corrective Services NSW) [2017] NSWIRComm 1051).


Employer prevented from proceeding with investigation and disciplinary process

Stop right now

The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act) gives the Fair Work Commission (the Commission) the power to make orders to stop bullying where it is satisfied pursuant to section 789FF that: (1) A worker has been bullied at work by an individual or group of individuals; and (2) There is a risk that the worker will continue to be bullied at work by the individual or group.


Investigation letters issued to ill employee not a breach of duty of care

Appeal dismissed

In Govier v UnitingCare Community [2017] QCA 12, an employee’s appeal was dismissed, confirming an earlier decision that her employer did not breach any duty of care when it issued letters to the employee in the course of an investigation, resulting in aggravation of her psychiatric conditions.


Employee witness support for employer’s actions essential in FWC

Employees raising concerns about workplace issues or incidents must not only be willing to complain, but also to then support the employer who acts in relation to that complaint once the matter comes to trial

The widely reported decision of Commissioner Stanton in William F v Mt Arthur Coal Pty Ltd [2015] FWC 2343 highlights the importance of witnesses participating in the FWC’s hearing processes.


FWC Awards Maximum Compensation to Dismissed Employee Who Stole Company Property

The Punishment Did Not Fit The Crime

A Qantas flight attendant (the Applicant) who was sacked for stealing alcohol from a flight and lying about it was awarded $33,731 in compensation by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) after it found that the decision to terminate the Applicant’s employment was harsh.