A finance broker with 7 years of service was dismissed by his employer for misconduct after posting two memes on his personal Facebook page.
In Thompson v 360 Degrees Finance Pty Ltd (2021), the Fair Work Commission “FWC” heard that Mr Thompson posted an image of himself and a female colleague with a text that said “you pulled out right?” and a picture of a washing machine with suds on the floor.
On the next occasion, Mr Thompson posted a meme with a picture of himself and the words “That moment after you dropped a meme intending to upset some c**ts… And you get to hear, c**ts are upset”.
Mr Thompson claimed he had been unfairly dismissed and made an unfair dismissal claim. One of the key issues that he raised was that his employer condoned the culture in the workplace.
The FWC found that it was clear what the standard of conduct was (the employer had rolled out training together with policy and procedure) and what was appropriate at the workplace and that this employee fell below what might be objectively seen as acceptable or ‘normal’ in the workplace.
Mr Thompson had received previous warnings and it should be noted that the business was under new ownership. The FWC ruled that the behaviour was serious enough to warrant dismissal and it was unlawful sexual harassment.
Take note employers that culture is not enough of an excuse to justify inappropriate behaviour.
Take note employers that having good policies and expectations set together with the following process can leave you with a strong case to justify dismissal.
ABOUT KARENA NICHOLLS:
Karena is a Partner at Coutts and is the Head of our Injury Compensation (with extensive knowledge in personal injury) and Employment Law teams. She is passionate and dedicated to helping her clients understand their rights and obligations and advising them on the best course of action to achieve their desired outcomes. Her practical and client-orientated approach has attributed to her authentic reputation positioning her as a highly regarded compensation and employment lawyer.
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