Swearing Rants In Meeting Justify Sacking

Published August 14, 2019 (last updated July 22, 2020) -

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has upheld the dismissal of a storeperson who went on a swearing rant at his supervisors.

Metcash summarily dismissed the employee in February 2019 for using his phone to record a conversation with his supervisor in an intrusive manner, contrary to the company’s code of conduct and electronic devices policy.

He lost his application for an unfair dismissal remedy after he was dismissed for swearing in a conduct meeting, refusing to attend a debrief with his supervisor and telling him not to make contact outside working hours.

Metcash told Deputy President Beaumont that the storeperson objected to his supervisor sending him a text on his day off.

In a subsequent disciplinary meeting he told the supervisor: “If you ever harass me out of work hours again, I will tell you exactly what I think of you and your mother,” as he presented in an intimidating manner, standing over the table, leaning in and using a raised voice.

In the same meeting with a support person, an SDA representative and an HR consultant, he repeatedly swore despite being told to stop.

The employee told the deputy president he might have said, “this is fucking bullshit” and “Carol never fucking helps” in the meeting, but he described his swearing as “conversational”.

The deputy president described the storeperson’s claim that he recorded his supervisor to “preserve” his interests as “preposterous”.

“The use of the mobile phone [by the storeperson] was antagonistic and disrespectful conduct”, Deputy President Beaumont said.

“The initial conduct of commencing the recording was intrusive.

“The continuation by [the storeperson] of the recording in the face of [the supervisor] not consenting to the same, was contrary to the expected behaviours outlined in the code of conduct.”

She described the union’s challenges to the integrity of the company’s investigation as “absurd”.

“I am satisfied that [the storeperson’s] misconduct was manifestly serious and in clear breach of the obligations he had under the Code of Conduct, Metcash’s Use of Electronic Devices Policy, and the instructions that had been provided to him by [the supervisor],” Deputy President Beaumont said.

She said the storeperson’s conduct was “repugnant to the employment relationship and was sufficiently grave to justify summary dismissal”.

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