Bluescope Steel Limited v Peco Sirijovski [2014] FWCFB 2593 (23 April 2014)

Main issue: Unfair dismissal

Background:

A worker with 35 years of service was dismissed following a major safety breach where he failed to prevent a production delay costing Bluescope Steel Limited (Bluescope) $138,000.  He had been issued previously with a first and final written warning for gross misconduct.

At first instance the Commission held that the worker had been unfairly dismissed and awarded 26 weeks’ pay stating that Bluescope had condoned his behaviour by failing to discipline him or restrain his conduct previously and that their investigation of the incident was not adequate.  However, the Commission did not find reinstatement appropriate stating that he was a “difficult and belligerent employee”.

Both Bluescope and the worker appealed the decision.

Decision:

On appeal the Full Bench held that Bluescope did undertake an investigation of the incident including collecting photographs and observations and recording interviews with other operators, but had failed to take into account the worker’s substantial prior service when dismissing him.

The Full Bench reduced the payment to 16 weeks’ pay and reaffirmed that reinstatement would be inappropriate.