Are you familiar with the concept of ‘unfair dismissal’? Here’s a fascinating case that will shed some light on this topic. The case is Angele Chandler vs Bed Bath N’ Table  FWC 3706. In this legal dispute, a part-time employee was found to have secretly recorded her conversations with her bosses. Despite this breach of trust, the Court determined her dismissal to be unjust. Here’s a deeper dive into this case and the lessons we can learn from it.
Angele Chandler, a part-time worker at Bed Bath N’ Table Pty Ltd (BBT), felt wronged by her dismissal. So, she took her case to the Fair Work Commission, under section 394 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (the FW Act). The surprising twist here? She and BBT both agreed that no previous complaints were made about her performance or any disciplinary actions taken prior to her dismissal.
The Reasons for Dismissal
BBT’s justification for dismissing Chandler revolved around three incidents of alleged misconduct:
- Chandler didn’t follow BBT’s absence-notification policy. She texted instead of calling her store manager and didn’t directly inform the BBT Regional Manager of her inability to come to work as specifically instructed.
- Chandler was accused of being disrespectful, insubordinate, and intimidating during a meeting, continuously voicing baseless complaints that supposedly posed a threat to the regional manager’s health and safety.
- Chandler allegedly sent an ‘appalling’ email, continuing her supposed disrespectful and intimidating behavior.
On top of these allegations, Chandler recorded her conversations with her managers without their consent or knowledge.
The Court’s View
The court considered Chandler’s protection from unfair dismissal under section 382 of the FW Act. If she was protected, was she indeed unfairly dismissed under section 385 of the FW Act? The Court answered in the affirmative.
The Fair Work Commission concluded that while the secret recordings could justify dismissal, BBT was unaware of them until the legal proceedings began. Thus, Chandler wasn’t given a chance to respond to this particular accusation. As for the other misconduct allegations, the Court found them all unconvincing, rendering them invalid grounds for dismissal.
The Flaws in the Process
The Fair Work Commission noted that the dismissal process followed by BBT was flawed, even ‘bungled and incompetent’. They also pointed out that Chandler wasn’t allowed a support person at the disciplinary meeting. This was another key aspect that led the Commission to declare the dismissal unjust.
Employers, take heed! Even if you believe you have a legitimate reason to let an employee go, it’s crucial to follow proper procedures, give your employee a chance to respond to allegations, and ensure your reasons for dismissal are sound and defensible. If not, you risk the dismissal being ruled unfair.
Moreover, consistency in enforcing workplace policies is crucial. If an employee breaks a rule, it’s only a valid reason for dismissal if the rule is consistently enforced.
In conclusion, this case highlights the complexities of unfair dismissal and the importance of following proper procedures during the dismissal process. It’s a powerful reminder that legal compliance and ethical considerations should always be at the forefront of any employer’s decision-making process contact Frontline Employment Defenders Now to help assist you with your employment dispute.
Call Frontline Employment Defenders Now so we can help you 1300 089 353 or visit https://www.fled.com.au