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Employee unfairly dismissed after running criminal enterprise

Employment Law

The recent decision of Nash Wong v Taitung Australia Pty Ltd [2016] FWC 7982 highlights the importance of making timely decisions regarding employee misconduct.

Mr Wong was employed as a delivery truck driver for Taitung’s food supply business. Mr Wong was one of a number of employees dismissed without notice after Taitung discovered that they were allegedly selling the business’ produce on the side in a joint criminal enterprise. However, the employees were dismissed several months after Taitung became aware of their misconduct.

In determining Mr Wong’s unfair dismissal application, the Commission found that his serious misconduct was a valid reason for his dismissal. However, the dismissal was unfair because Taitung let Mr Wong continue his employment for some time after becoming aware of his misconduct “and thus it was deprived of the capacity to dismiss without notice”. Mr Wong’s misconduct was considered to be so serious that he was not awarded any compensation despite being dismissed unfairly.

The take-out from this case is the importance of acting quickly if you are to rely upon employee misconduct to terminate their employment. Time is of the essence. If you have an employment situation that may give rise to the need to discipline or terminate a staff member, our Employment Team is standing by, ready to walk you through the practicalities of what should be done.