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Fair Work Commission – Social Media Posts

Fair Work Commission – Background

The Fair Work Commission found an employee dismissal to be unfair. Mr Somogyi was dismissed because of vulgar social media misconduct. However, a fair dismissal procedure must be followed by employers.

Fair Work Commission – Facts

In essence:

  • Somogyi was employed as a merchandiser at LED Technologies Pty Ltd
  • on 24 August 2015, he posted on Facebook: “I don’t have time for people’s arrogance. And your not always right! Your position is useless, you don’t do anything all day how much of the bosses c*** did you suck to get where you are?”
  • the post was seen by several of Mr Somogyi’s colleagues before he removed it after five minutes
  • his employer dismissed Mr Somogyi in a sixty second telephone call. The employee was told: “it doesn’t matter. You’re fired”
  • the employer failed to provide the employee an opportunity to explain his conduct
  • furthermore, the employer mistakenly interpreted that the post was referring to employees of LED Technologies Pty Ltd
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Swearing Did Not Warrant Summary Dismissal

The Fair Work Commission has awarded an Operations Manager $27,787 in compensation following a finding that swearing at another manager was not sufficient to justify his summary dismissal.

Facts

In essence:

  • On or around July 2016, the Operations Manager had a heated argument with the national WHS Manager of Precepts Services Pty Limited (‘the employer’). The WHS Manager happened to be the wife of the employer’s Managing Director.
  • Prior to the argument, the WHS Manager had a meeting with the Operations Manager’s son – who was employed by the employer as an apprentice electrician – in relation to concerns about his performance.
  • The Operations Manager questioned why he was not invited to attend his son’s performance review meeting, and allegedly said to the WHS manager: “Your sneaky husband made that decision, did he?
  • The WHS manager asked what he had meant by “sneaky”. In response, the Operations Manager referred to a previous phone conversation between his (i.e. the Operations Manager’s) wife and the Managing Director in relation to a dispute over their son’s wages. The Operations Manager relayed that during the phone conversation, the managing director allegedly swore at the Operations Manager’s wife, saying to her “f-ck off, you do not have your facts right”, and then hung up on her.
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