Hard core porn a valid reason for dismissal

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Fair Work Australia (FWA) has held that an employee’s distribution of hard core pornography to colleagues was a valid cause for his dismissal, despite not having received specific training regarding the information technology policy.

In the case of Shoukry v The Star Pty Ltd T/A The Star [2012], HR at Sydney’s casino had conducted an internal investigation into the email accounts of certain employees.

The employer had determined, after a consultation process, that employees who had sent 10 or more emails containing hard core pornography onwards from 1 January 2010 would have their employment contracts terminated through summary dismissal.

According to case commentary by workplace law experts at Mallesons, the employee in this particular case was dismissed after the employer discovered that he had sent to other employees (mostly from his home computer) approximately 50 emails containing hard core pornography. Despite this finding, the employee made an unfair dismissal claim to FWA with a view to reinstatement.

FWA noted that the conduct had systematically occurred over an extended period of time and while there appeared to have been a workplace culture of exchanging inappropriate emails (including by supervisors and managers), there was no evidence of any “wider culture” of the practice.

The employee had also been informed as to where policies could be accessed and, in any case, this was “conduct which as a matter of common sense should not be engaged in in the workplace”.

Related stories:

Pornography on work computers: One strike and you’re out?
FWA reinstates employees dismissed for inappropriate email usage

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