Supervisor not dismissed for 'stirring the pot'

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Supervisor not dismissed for 'stirring the pot'

A company supervisor was not dismissed for ‘stirring the pot’ with head office, the Fair Work Commission has ruled. Rather, he was made redundant because his position was no longer required.

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By Rachel O'Connor

A company supervisor was not dismissed for ‘stirring the pot’ with head office, the Fair Work Commission has ruled. Rather, he was made redundant because his position was no longer required.   

Jason Law was employed as a supervisor at the Darwin branch of Amalgamated Pest Control from June 2016. When the business was sold in August that year to Flick, he was advised the company would continue to operate as it had for the past 56 years.

When the companies merged there was tension between Mr Law and Flick’s territory manager Rob Van Veen.

Due to the additional number of employees, there was no longer a need for Mr Law’s position as a supervisor. In January 2017, he was advised that his position would be made redundant. He was offered alternative positions as a technician or a contractor. 

Was it a genuine redundancy?


Under s394 of the Fair Work Act 2009, the court considered whether Mr Law’s dismissal satisfied the test for genuine redundancy. This section of the Act states that genuine redundancy occurs when there is no longer a need for the position in the company because of operational changes. The employee must have been informed and had discussions about their options in accordance with award obligations and it is not reasonable to be redeployed elsewhere.  

Mr Law argued that he was unfairly dismissed on unreasonable grounds based on the fact he was a nuisance to the company. This was in regard to alleged comments that he ‘stirred the pot’ with head office during arguments with Mr Van Veen. 

However, his employer denied this allegation and argued that the reason for the dismissal was clearly outlined to Mr Law. He was dismissed because he was no longer needed. The respondent further argued that reasonable steps were taken to find him another position, but he rejected both offers. 

The Commission ruled it was a genuine redundancy because Mr Law’s ‘functions, duties and responsibilities’ as supervisor could be distributed among the other two managers in Darwin once the companies merged. 

Commissioner Wilson said: "The reasons why the company held the views it did about its operational requirements were explained to Mr Law.

"Notwithstanding his view, that he had been targeted for redundancy because he had 'stirred the pot with head office' and thereby had become a nuisance, the evidence does not support a finding that the respondent’s decision making was for that reason, or included that reason. Contrary to Mr Law’s arguments, there was no evidence to suggest it was because he was ‘stirring the pot’.

The Commissioner found the company had complied with its consultation obligations under the Pest Control Industry Award 2010 by notifying Mr Law of his redundancy and discussing his options. It had offered him alternative employment options and these were rejected.

The application was dismissed, however Mr Law has now appealed the decision.

Jason Law v Amalgamated Pest Control P/L t/a Amalgamated Pest Control [2017] FWC 3577

See also: Redundancy
 
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