When David Winter, Australia's
"internationally-renowned" competitive shooter, was
facing the sack from Goodyear, he brought in the big guns (pun
totally intended) by calling on Liberal Democrats Senator David
Leyonhjelm, who from his Twitter account photo, looks like a real
life Dr Evil.
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.
Problem was, that mate brought her gun! As may be expected, a
passerby saw the gun, called the police, and there was a bit of a
Although Mr Winter walked away with no more than a stern talking
to from the cops, Goodyear wasn't so forgiving. It wasn't
too impressed that Mr Winter gave his gun carrying friend access to
its secure car park, and was equally annoyed that Mr Winter
didn't show any contrition for his wrongdoing. To make matters
worse, Mr Winter brought in Dr Evil as his support person in one of
the disciplinary meetings. Goodyear summarily dismissed Mr Winter
for serious misconduct.
Bringing an unfair dismissal claim, Mr Winter tried to argue
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. Therefore, Mr Winter
should have anticipated that his friend may bring her deadly
The FWC was also critical of Dr Evil, finding that he was an
"overtly interventionist" support person and by bringing
him to the meeting Mr Winter ensured that the employment
relationship was irreparably damaged.
Despite all of this, the FWC held that, although Mr Winter's
conduct unambiguously justified the termination of his employment,
it did not justify summary dismissal. Goodyear was ordered to pay
Mr Winter his notice period.
This case is a friendly reminder that:
even the most boneheaded of conduct may not overcome the high
summary dismissal threshold and employers must be cautious when
dismissing without notice;
a support person is not an employee's advocate and
employers can take steps to ensure that the Dr Evils of the world
don't frustrate the disciplinary process.
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An employee that refused a reasonable offer of settlement was ordered by the FWC to pay his ex-employer's legal costs.
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