Son Wins Unfair Dismissal Claim After Being Sacked At Family Dinner

Published November 06, 2019 (last updated July 22, 2020) -

The Fair Work Commission has found in favour of a son, who claimed his parents unfairly sacked him from his job.

The man was sacked after he was late to a family dinner. After a heated argument, the man was told to leave and never come back – either to his parents’ home or the family business.

The man had worked with his father at the family’s smash repair business and had helped manage it.

Fair Work Commissioner Sarah McKinnon ruled that the father pay the son over $10,000 for unfair dismissal.

“There is no evidence that the business or any of its officers held any relevant belief that the conduct of [the man] was so serious that immediate dismissal would be justified,” she said.

“If it was other than a summary dismissal, there is no evidence of any warnings being given to [the man] before he was dismissed. [The man]’s evidence is that there were none.”

Noting that the case obviously involved deep personal relationships, the Commissioner accepted that the son had a right to bring his claim to the FWC.

“I am left in the dark as to any additional contextual matters that should or could have been taken into account when considering if the dismissal was unfair,” Commissioner McKinnon said.

“It is, to my mind, extremely sad that what was once a loving family has allowed relationships to deteriorate to the extent that they have. However, Pasquale has the right to bring his claim and I must deal with it accordingly.

“But there is insufficient context before me to explain why arriving late for dinner would have been a valid reason for dismissal.

“I am not satisfied that it was.”

In delivering her findings, the Commissioner granted that reinstatement would not be appropriate given the “genuine loss of trust and confidence” between the two parties.

Based on the fact that the son could have found a new job quicker than he did, and that he would have reasonably worked for another six months, earning $31,200, the Commissioner ordered the father to pay his son $10,115

“I am not satisfied that Pasquale’s conduct in arriving late to dinner on 10 March 2019 can fairly be characterised as work-related conduct,” the Commissioner said.

“The compensation amount that I have determined is less than the compensation cap of 26 weeks’ pay. It is not an amount that is clearly excessive or clearly inadequate.”

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