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The Importance of a Fair Process: A Case Study

Published June 30, 2021 (last updated June 6, 2022) - ANZ Head of Legal Services

An employee-employer relationship can get complicated. Lack of communication or the inability to meet expectations can be a cause of dispute. An employee can also feel they have been unfairly treated in certain cases. What can you do to ensure a fair process has been followed? In this blog, we will review a case study that highlights the importance of fair process.

A Case Study

In September 2020, The Fair Work Commission ruled on the case of Michael Lyle Jones v Karisma Joinery Pty Ltd where the employee claimed to have been unfairly dismissed. The employee, who had been with the business for five years, engaged in repeated swearing and abusive behaviour over the phone. The aggressive behaviour was directed towards a manager in response to a reasonable management request. The Managing Director decided this was not going to be tolerated and terminated the employee via email, several hours after the phone call occurred. The Commission concluded that the business had a valid reason to terminate the employee for serious misconduct based on their behaviour, however, they did not follow a fair process to get there. A similar case finalised in November 2020, Hayley Howard-Colla v AMJK Pty Ltd T/A Bloom Bar & Lounge, echoed the findings. Both cases ended in favour of the employee and both employees received financial compensation as part of the outcome.

When the Commission consider an unfair dismissal case, they look at several factors in order to reach their judgement. Under the Fair Work Act 2009, one of the key factors considered is the process undertaken to get to the outcome.

Following a fair process includes:

  • Whether the person was told that they may be terminated
  • Whether the person had a chance to explain themselves
  • Whether they were offered to have someone with them while explaining themselves

Therefore, having a good reason to terminate someone is only part of a bigger picture. You can’t rely on a valid reason without a fair process.

The Karisma and Bloom cases demonstrate that even difficult employees are entitled to procedural fairness. As a manager, it’s hard to consider all of these factors when you are dealing with the emotional response towards challenging employee behaviour.

Employsure Face2Face Can Help You

Employsure Face2Face can provide support to your business (which may be at an additional cost), either onsite or via video conference, to eliminate the emotional burden of the situation. Available only to clients of Employsure.

About Employsure

Employsure is one of Australia’s largest workplace relations advisers to small- and medium-businesses, with over 30,000 clients. We take the complexity out of workplace legislation to help small business employers protect their business and their people.


Michael Lyle Jones v Karisma Joinery Pty Ltd [2020] FWC 5051 (25 September 2020)

Hayley Howard-Colla v AMJK Pty Ltd T/A Bloom Bar & Lounge [2020] FWC 6084 (12 November 2020)

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