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A very costly text message

A very costly text message (Last Updated On: December 9, 2015)

A secretary for a gold exploration company, who accidentally sent an insulting text message to her boss, has been ordered by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to pay a large portion of his legal fees.

Louise Nesbitt had her employment terminated five days after accidently sending a text message to her boss describing him as a ‘complete dick’. She quickly back tracked after realising she had messaged the wrong person by asking her boss to delete the text without reading it.

Ms Nesbitt told the FWC the text message was meant to be sent to her daughter’s boyfriend, who had been contracted by Perth’s Dragon Mountain Gold to do plumbing work in her office.

Ms Nesbitt took her dismissal to the FWC in hopes of winning her job back, stating that the text message was out of context and this was her ‘sense of humour’.

However, Ms Nesbitt lost her unfair dismissal claim, with Fair Work Commissioner Danny Cloghan ruling the text message as deeply offensive, derogatory and ‘far from a light-hearted insult’.

“To call a person a ‘dick’ is a derogatory term to describe an idiot or a fool. The word ‘complete’ is used to convey the message that the person is, without exception, an idiot or a fool – they are nothing less than a ‘dick”.

Commissioner Cloghan was satisfied that Ms Nesbitt’s employer reasonably believed that her misconduct was serious enough to justify summary dismissal. As such, it was found that she was not unfairly dismissed.

Dragon Mountain Gold told the FWC that they had incurred more than $50,000 in legal costs for the unfair dismissal case. Whilst Ms Nesbitt is not required to pay this full amount, Commission Cloghan stated the she will have to pay a reasonable portion.

Whilst Ms Nesbitt was found to have acted in a way to justify summary dismissal, employers should have policies and procedures in place to protect themselves should an employee act inappropriately in the workplace. Employsure can advise employers on the correct policies and procedures for performance management and terminating employees. If you have any questions relating to employee misconduct, do not hesitate to contact us today on 1300 651 415.

Sourced via Courier Mail

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