Goodyear fires gun-loving employee for misconduct

by Victoria Bruce13 May 2016
Tyre giant Goodyear recently won an unfair dismissal case against a high profile employee who was fired for misconduct involving an incident with a firearm.

Goodyear made the decision to terminate “internationally-renowned” competitive shooter David Waters after it was discovered that he invited a gun-enthusiast friend to meet him in his employer’s car park to talk guns.

Amber Sharp, Partner at MARQUE Lawyers says Goodyear was not impressed at Waters giving his gun-loving friend access to its secure carpark – nor the fact that she brought her weapon along.

“Mr Winter thought he'd help out another fun gun lovin' mate of his by meeting her in Goodyear's car park to talk guns,” Sharp says.

“Problem was, that mate brought her gun! As may be expected, a passer-by saw the gun, called the police, and there was a bit of a scene.”

Although Waters got away with no more than a stern talking to from the cops, his employer wasn’t so forgiving, Sharp says.

“It wasn't too impressed that Mr Waters gave his gun carrying friend access to its secure car park, and was equally annoyed that Mr Waters didn't show any contrition for his wrongdoing,” Sharp wrote on her workplace blog.

To make matters worse with his employer, Waters invited brought a politician along to a disciplinary meeting as his support person.

NSW Senator David Leyonhjelm, according to the Fair Work Commission, was “overtly interventionist” in his role as support person and “ensured that the employment relationship was irreparably damaged.”

“It was unfortunate that, rather than assisting in the process, the excessively interventionist approach adopted by the employee’s chosen support person, served only to confirm the extent to which the employment relationship had collapsed,” the Commissioner said.

Goodyear summarily dismissed Waters for serious misconduct and Waters hit back with an unfair dismissal claim, arguing that he didn't know his friend was going to bring a gun to their meeting.

“The Fair Work Commission didn't buy it and found that the meeting was to discuss "fitting" or "fixing" an accessory to the gun,” Sharp says, adding that Waters should have anticipated that his friend would be bringing her gun.

The applicant’s actions, in either scenario, did not involve a deliberate act of serious misconduct which could justify dismissal without notice.

However, the FWC decided that while Water’s conduct definitely justified the termination of his employment, it did not justify summary dismissal.

“On either of the two foundations identified by the employer as serious misconduct, the applicant’s actions did not have the characteristics of an attack upon the employment relationship,” the Commissioner said in his statement.

“The applicant was, upon the highest evidentiary basis available, making a serious error of judgement involving what might be described as a calculated risk,” he said, adding “Who would have thought that someone would see the rifle and report it to the Police?”

Ultimately, the FWC ordered Goodyear to pay Waters his notice period.

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