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Chicken farm employee ruffles feathers

Unfair DismissalMay 14, 2015

Chicken farm employee ruffles feathers (Last Updated On: November 18, 2016)

A chicken farm has had its feathers ruffled. An employee has won an unfair dismissal case and been awarded $7,000 in compensation even though she allegedly operated heavy machinery whilst intoxicated.

Heidi Cannon was dismissed on the 5th November 2014, the morning after the Melbourne Cup. She admitted to drinking the day before and received a lift to work because she “didn’t want to take the risk of having a breathalyser – I would have had it [alcohol] on my breath still which could make me over .05”.

Cannon’s boss, Mr. Matteo Geminian, told the courts that he had found her passed out, in the driver’s seat of the large piece of machinery she operated, smelling like alcohol. Cannon’s job was to carry chickens in crates through a shed using a conveyer belt. On the morning of her dismissal she had run over or “smothered” 50 to 60 chickens.

There were obvious grounds to dismiss her. She arrived for work intoxicated and her conduct could have cause “serious and imminent risk to the health and safety of the person”. Her actions could have led to a “serious and imminent risk to the reputation, viability or profitability of Poultry Harvesting’s business”.

However Mr. Matteo Geminian lost the unfair dismissal case, the reason being, the employer did not follow procedural fairness. Geminian told Cannon to go home and said “her conduct would be reason enough to fire her, but said he would call her the next day to discuss her future employment with the company”. Instead of providing the employee the opportunity to respond to the allegation, Geminian dismissed her via a telephone call a few hours later. Geminian did not collect evidence and there was nothing to suggest that the employee was actually intoxicated whilst at work.

Employers need to follow the correct proceedings when dismissing an employee. Accurate and recorded evidence must be gathered and the opportunity to discuss the employment misconduct must be provided to the employee. If you have any questions relating to procedural fairness, call Employsure today on 1300 651 415.

Sourced: Smart Company

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