Dishonesty and erosion of trust solid grounds for dismissal

by Stephanie Zillman12 Jul 2012

An employee for a not-for-profit employment services agency has failed in his bid to have his dismissal overturned after lying about his unauthorised use of a company vehicle.

In the case of Simon Workman v South Metropolitan Personnel Inc, the employee was dismissed after exceeding the speed limit in a company car at a time when he was not authorised to drive it, and failing to be honest in subsequent interviews. Employees of the agency were allowed to use the cars for private purposes if approved by the CEO, and on the condition they sign the log book.

Initially the employee in this case had said he was driving a client to a job interview, but crosschecking revealed this to be false.

The policy infringement came to light following the issue of a speeding fine. “(The employee) either deliberately misled (the CEO) with his first explanation or deliberately chose not to later clarify what he came to realise was an incorrect explanation,” Commissioner Williams of Fair Work Australia found. The employee was dismissed because the employer had lost the “element of trust and honesty” essential to continuing the employment relationship.

Williams also commented that unauthorised use of the vehicle on its own would not have constituted a valid reason for dismissal – the key factor in the legitimacy of the dismissal was the lack of openness and honesty the employee showed during the investigation. “The Tribunal has previously held that employees need to be honest during investigations by their employer. Where an employee is dishonest during such investigations the employer can no longer be confident that the employee will be honest in future and so the relationship of trust and confidence between the parties has been destroyed, potentially warranting dismissal,” Commissioner Williams said.




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