Far out Friday: Woman who called boss a “complete d*ck” loses unfair dismissal case

by Chloe Taylor17 Apr 2015
A woman who was sacked from her job as a bookkeeper after accidentally sending an insulting text to her boss has lost her unfair dismissal claim.

Louise Nesbitt, the former employee of a mineral exploration company in Perth, mistakenly sent a text to her boss that was intended for her daughter’s boyfriend, who was working as a contracted plumber at her office.

The text message dubbed Nesbitt’s boss a “complete dick”, and although she apologised, she was dismissed.

Nesbitt, who was employed by the company for six years, recently lost an unfair dismissal case before Australia’s industrial tribunal.

Fair Work Commissioner Danny Cloghan rejected Nesbitt’s argument that the text message should have been considered in the context of the intended recipient.

“To call a person a ‘dick’ is a derogatory term to describe an idiot or a fool,” Cloghan found. “The word 'complete' is used to convey the message that the person is, without exception, an idiot or a fool; they are nothing less than a ‘dick’.”

He agreed that Nesbitt’s employer was reasonable in regarding the conduct as serious enough to justify summary dismissal, and that Nesbitt had not been unfairly dismissed.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the text message referred to Nesbitt’s boss as a “complete dick”, informing the recipient that “we know this already so please try your best not to tell him that regardless of how you feel the need”.

Nesbitt, who reportedly realised her error immediately, attempted to rectify her mistake by sending another message to her boss: “Rob, please delete without reading. I am so so so sorry. Xxx.”

She also sent another text, The Herald reported, claiming that the message was merely a reflection of her sense of humour: “That message came across so wrong,” she wrote. “Rob ... that is not how I feel. My sense of humour is to exaggerate. It is so far out of context ... please forget it and just go on as normal.”

In his written judgement, Cloghan said that the text was “far from a light-hearted insult”, suggesting that it was derogatory and insulting.


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