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Employment and Migration Blog

What were they thinking?

Posted by Stephen Booth on 31 Jan 2012

Happy New Year to our blog readers!


No resolutions here, but a reflection to begin the year:  people can have an amazing lack of insight. Being an employment lawyer (or working in HR) broadens your life experience: you get to see people behaving in ways you wouldn’t believe if you read it in a book.


Take a random sample of recent unfair dismissal try-ons:




  • the safety manager who got drunk, decided it was OK to urinate in the middle of the group of employees with whom he was drinking, and, when one of them was insensitive enough to object, attempted to strangle the objector



  • the aircraft engine maintenance man who damaged an engine while working on it, but said nothing, and attempted to cover up the problem (not fix it!), with potentially catastrophic results



  • the electrician who exposed himself to a colleague (apparently as a response to her seeking medical evidence of fitness to work), as well as forging reports relating to an alleged back injury.




You’d think they’d all go quietly, but no, they each made an unfair dismissal claim, which was itself DISMISSED – quel surprise!

I think some claims happen because the ex-employee makes a bold attempt to maintain credibility at home, rather than fess up to stupidity.


But it isn’t just employees. An employer recently had costs awarded against it in an unfair dismissal case (a very rare event) for arguing it was a small business (<15 employees), and had no HR staff - when its HR Handbook said it had 1500 employees, and HR had written a letter to the employee concerned!  And the employer had itself put this material into evidence!


The FWA conciliator is likely to tell parties like these that they are on a hiding to nothing. So, No 43 in Booth’s 101 Unfair Dismissal Tips is: be assertive defending ridiculous claims. 


Better still, may you have no such claims in 2012!

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