Employers need to act promptly on allegations of employee misconduct
Wong v Taitung Australia Pty Ltd  is a pertinent reminder for employers to act promptly on allegations of employee misconduct. This case involved the Fair Work Commission finding that a delivery driver, who had been allegedly involved in theft, was unfairly dismissed because his termination coincided with his complaints about workplace safety.
The driver was allowed to continue working despite theft allegations. The company failed to take any action until months later, when the driver complained of various health and safety issues, including that his truck was roadworthy and faulty. It was only after these complaints that he was suspended from duty for 24 hours and was told about the allegations of theft. Despite denying these allegations, he was summarily dismissed on the basis of the employer’s suspicion of the serious misconduct.
Despite acknowledging that there was a valid reason for the dismissal, the Fair Work Commission found that under workplace law, the employer was too slow to act on their theft suspicions. Because the employer allowed the employee to continue to work, despite their awareness of the alleged misconduct, the employer was no longer legally able to summarily dismiss the employee on the basis of this misconduct. The failure to suspend the employee from duty meant that the employer was then required to provide notice, which they failed to do.
However, despite finding the employee was unfairly dismissed, due to the nature and severity of the employee’s misconduct the Fair Work Commission reduced the amount of compensation in lieu of notice to zero.
Tips for Employers
- ensure prompt action is taken when they become aware of allegations of serious employee misconduct
- be aware of any obligations imposed by workplace laws, particularly regarding dismissal of employees
- seek employment law advice from an employment lawyer if you are unsure of how to address issues of employee misconduct
If you would like more information about this article or if you would like any assistance in other employment law matters from an employment lawyer in Sydney, please feel free to speak with or email one of our specialist employment lawyers on (02) 9635 7966 or firstname.lastname@example.org
DISCLAIMER: This article is provided to clients and readers for their general information and on a complimentary basis. It contains a brief summary only and should not be relied upon or used as definitive or complete statement of the relevant workplace law.
 Wong v Taitung Australia Pty Ltd  FWC 7982 (10 November 2016)