Unfair Termination After Workplace Fight Deemed Fair, Case Dismissed by Fair Work Commission

by Sep 16, 2015

Australia’s Fair Work Commission has dismissed a case filed by an applicant who claimed he was terminated unfairly after being involved in a fight with another employee.  The applicant further claimed he had been the victim of workplace bullying.

The case details indicated that the altercation started when the applicant and another employee engaged in a verbal argument which ended in a physical tussle.  The two reportedly wrestled on the ground after the applicant was punched in the face by the other employee.  The company then terminated both employees after the incident.

The applicant claimed that he was bullied at work by the other employee.  During his case hearing, the applicant said that the other employee “physically assaulted and abused [him] on a number of occasions.”  This was the point that he raised to defend his unruly conduct.

However, Commissioner Cloghan of the Fair Work Commission reportedly found no evidence of workplace bullying.  The Commissioner also found out that the applicant did not inform his supervisor or the human resources department of the instances of the employee’s bullying. In the course of the investigation and case hearing, the Commission discovered that the applicant was the one who started the fight.

With the findings, Commissioner Cloghan dismissed the case and deemed that the employer had valid reason to terminate the employee.  What also strengthened the Commissioner decision was that the company was able to show evidence that a fair process had been followed.

This serves as a good example for companies in ensuring that just cause and fair process should be followed in instances of employee misconduct investigations and termination cases.


To learn more about the case, click here to read the full article.

About Catherine Mattice

Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

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