In a recent Australian court case, an experienced HR manager, Cameron Blewett, was fined $7,560 for his involvement in the unlawful termination of a production worker at Bervar, a pizza manufacturer trading as Della Rosa Fresh Foods. The employer faces a near $100,000 payout for the unfair dismissal.
The worker had been with the company for nearly five years before she was dismissed for supposedly failing to perform a part of her required tasks. The court found that Blewett violated professional standards by failing to directly communicate with the employee about her termination. Instead, he chose to speak with her husband, assuming he had the authority to decide her employment status.
Judge Karl Blake of the Federal Circuit and Family Court called the incident “utterly surprising” and “humiliating.” He highlighted the destructive nature of the dismissal, stating it was a grave affront to the worker’s self-confidence and self-respect.
Blewett argued that the company had held two disciplinary meetings with the worker. However, Judge Blake noted that the meetings were not properly conducted as disciplinary ones. He also pointed out that Bervar failed to warn the worker about her job being at risk.
The Judge found Blewett’s actions deliberate and motivated by a fear that the worker would exercise her workplace rights. The court concluded that this fear led him to seize the first opportunity to dismiss her. Judge Blake stated that neither Blewett nor Bervar showed any remorse for their actions, choosing instead to defend their case to the end.
Bervar was ordered to pay $47,830 as compensation for economic loss, $9,000 in general damages, and interest. As a part of the penalty for their breach of s340 of the Fair Work Act, Bervar was fined $37,000 and Blewett $7,560.
Judge Blake emphasized the need for specific and general deterrence, stating that the conduct “cannot be condoned by the court.” The verdict serves as a stern reminder to all employers about respecting employee rights and the potential repercussions of unfair dismissals.
Call Frontline Employment Defenders Now so we can help if you have been bullied or unfairly dismissed on1300 089 353 or visit https://www.fled.com.au