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FWC deems drunken employee was ‘fairly dismissed’

Unfair DismissalFebruary 4, 2016

FWC deems drunken employee was ‘fairly dismissed’ (Last Updated On: August 9, 2016)

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has ruled an employee, who drunkenly threw his fully clothed colleague into a swimming pool at a work Christmas party, was fairly dismissed.

Damien McDaid was employed as a project coordinator at a Western Australian based engineering firm Future Engineering & Communications (FEC) since 2008. Mr McDaid took FEC to court, claiming his employer was at fault for his intoxication by providing alcohol at the work Christmas party in December 2014.

However, FEC argued Mr McDaid was acting aggressively at the work function, was clearly intoxicated and repeatedly poked his colleague in the chest before throwing him into the pool unprovoked.

The FWC heard there was building tension between Mr McDaid and his employer prior to the Christmas party. His boss allegedly told all employees that whoever had not completed their work, were not allowed to attend the Christmas festivities.  Mr McDaid’s anger at the party may have been a result of going into work the Saturday prior to complete his duties.

FEC alleged during the Christmas party, McDaid was asked to leave the event by his boss twice before the pool-throwing incident. They heard that following the incident, both men told each other to “f**k off”.  This led to a physical altercation between McDaid and his boss. The events of the Christmas party were later discussed during a series of meetings between McDaid and his managers, the outcome of which was the termination of McDaid’s employment in March 2015

Fair Work Commissioner, Bruce Williams, rejected McDaid’s unfair dismissal claim. He stated the dismissal was “not surprising” and was neither harsh, unjust nor unreasonable.

Employsure suggests any employer who is providing alcohol at work functions should brief employees beforehand on their expected behaviour at the work function and include these expectations in their workplace policies. Employers who do not take actions to ensure responsible service and consumption of alcohol may be held responsible. It is important however, to understand that employees who willingly become intoxicated are also held responsible for their own actions.

Work functions can be complicated when it comes to understanding your responsibilities and obligations as an employer. Due to the complexity of complicated regulations it is important to seek expert advice on a case by case basis. If you are planning a function and need a better understanding of your employment requirements Employsure can help. Call us today on 1300 651 415.

Sourced via Smart Company


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