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An Armidale butcher, Peter Strelitz, who supplies meat to some of Sydney’s most well-known eateries, is being grilled after he dismissed an apprentice who was charged with being an accessory to murder.
Mr. Strelitz allegedly fired the 19-yr-old apprentice, Mr Deeth, after his customers and other employees expressed concerns. In addition, the butcher is at risk of a tarnished reputation due to the high media attention.
According to Police the murder took place at an ATM and Mr Deeth was present when a 16-year-old pulled out a knife and stabbed the victim a number of times in the chest. Presumed innocent, he was granted bail while he awaits trial. Mr. Deeth’s mother then called his employer to arrange his return to work. Mr. Strelitz denied this and ‘cut ties with the apprentice’.
Mr Deeth has now filed for unfair dismissal and the case will be heard by the Fair Work Commission in September.
Mr. Strelitz had the opportunity to pay Mr. Deeth 15 weeks compensation but has chosen to fight the unfair dismissal claim in court. His response was “I gave him an apprenticeship when no one else would and I was put in a situation where my business was going to be put at risk. It’s hard enough as a small businesses to compete with the big guys and now I have to deal with this.”
The Human Rights Commission states that you cannot discriminate a person who has a criminal conviction. An employer can only deny a job to a potential candidate if the person’s criminal record relates inherently to the requirements of the job.
The question is, can the employee as a result of the charge continue to work as an apprentice butcher?
What employers should do to avoid falling into a similar situation.
By following the advice in this article employers can better protect themselves against adverse action claims and unfair dismissal disputes. If you have any employment relations issues or you are not sure how to handle the situation Employsure can help you. Call Employsure today on 1300 651 415 to find out more.