The importance of diligent record keeping was highlighted
recently, when a court found email evidence showing that an
employee's employment had ended for performance reasons, and
not for complaining of bullying and harassment.
The applicant was employed from 1 October 2009 to 8 December
2010. When he commenced his employment, he reported to the General
Manager of the People and Culture Division. Between May and
September 2010, the employee made various complaints to his
supervisor and to a General Manager, alleging that another manager
had been bullying and harassing him.
The applicant told the court that there were multiple
'flashpoints' in his dealings with the two managers. He
claimed he was shouted at and intimidated in a meeting, and that
one of the managers, who communicated mainly by email, had sent him
insulting messages in an effort to 'harass, intimidate and put
pressure on him to leave his employment'. As a consequence of
this alleged harassment, the employee said that he exercised a
workplace right under the general protection provisions of the
Fair Work Act by making a complaint, and that the employer
took adverse action against him by terminating his employment for
reasons related to his complaints.
The Federal Magistrate noted an email exchange between the CEO
and a senior employee prior to the dismissal which showed that the
main concern with the worker was his relationships with
stakeholders. He therefore accepted the employer's claims that
the employee was dismissed for failing to build and sustain
relationships with internal and external service providers, and not
for exercising a workplace right.
It is prudent to record and be able to evidence valid reasons
for a dismissal to resist applications alleging "tainted"
Sources: Stevenson v Air services Australia  FMCA 5
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Long experience representing many of Australia's leading employers has taught us that in employment litigation the identity of an employee's representative is a major factor in how employee litigation runs.
Australian employees receive certain entitlements (such as annual leave and superannuation) where contractors do not.
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