Unfairly sacked, but no compo for receptionist

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Unfairly sacked, but no compo for receptionist

An employer had a valid reason to sack a receptionist who submitted inaccurate time and wage sheets, however procedural failings meant the dismissal had been unfair.

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An employer had a valid reason to sack a receptionist who submitted inaccurate time and wage sheets, however procedural failings meant the dismissal was unfair.

Nonetheless, the Fair Work Commission determined it was not appropriate to order compensation.

Background


Lauren Webb worked as a receptionist/adminstrator at a day surgery from May 2014 until she was summarily dismissed in November 2015.

Her employer alleged she had bullied two colleagues and fraudulently claimed payment for hours not worked. The employer claimed building access records showed the woman was not at work when she claimed to be.

Ms Webb, however, denied the allegations of bullying, fraud and theft. She said she had not been given a reasonable opportunity to respond to the allegations, or been provided with an opportunity to rectify any alleged breaches.

Bullying allegations


Commissioner Spencer found the bullying allegations were unsubstantiated.

She also noted that the fraud and theft allegations were referred to the Queensland Police Service, which found there was insufficient evidence to proceed with any charges.

The Commissioner said Ms Webb's incorrect timesheets provided a valid reason for dismissal but it was "undermined" by the employer's "significant procedural deficiencies". 

"The allegations were not raised with any proximity to the actual period of work, for which the wages were paid and the allegations made," she said.

"The building access records were demonstrated to be unreliable comparators, thus providing 'inexact proofs', whereby it could not be concluded, on the balance of probabilities, that the applicant’s conduct was dishonest.

"The respondent did not put the full records, or the reasons for the dismissal, in their completeness, to the applicant before her dismissal. The respondent erred by not affording her a reasonable period to respond to and to consider the allegations in a proximate way to the dates of alleged conduct. The allegations of bullying were also not made out.

"Taking into account all of the aforementioned reasons, the circumstances of the case (where a valid reason for dismissal was found, but the dismissal was considered to be unfair), and that the applicant was employed on a casual basis over a period of 18 months and promptly secured alternative employment, it is not appropriate... to order compensation."

Ms Lauren Webb  v The Trustee for SWC Unit Trust T/A Salisbury Day Surgery
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