Peed off: truck driver’s compo win after dismissal for urinating on client’s warehouse underlines need for challenging conversations

The Fair Work Commission has awarded a truck driver $16,128 in unfair dismissal compensation from his employer after he was caught on camera urinating on a supermarket giant’s warehouse while at work.

The truck driver worked for a transport company that was required to make five to ten deliveries per week to a major grocery Regional Distribution Centre in northeast Victoria.

The truck driver was caught on a closed circuit security camera urinating on a wall of the warehouse, before pressing an intercom button and making his scheduled delivery.


The incident was in violation of the company’s manual for drivers, which clearly states: “All employees are to conduct themselves in a polite and courteous professional manner at all times whilst on duty. Whilst on a customer’s premises drivers are expected to adhere to any rules applicable at the site.”

Within days of the incident, a manager from the grocery chain informed the transport group’s operations manager about the security footage. The supermarket giant advised him that, under its company policy, the driver would be banned from making deliveries to its company sites for three months.

A day later, a human resources manager from the transport company had a short discussion with the driver over the phone about the footage. The transport company operations manager was then invited by the grocery chain to view the footage, and after a discussion with his human resources manager, decided to dismiss the truck driver.

While not seeking to be reinstated by the transport company, the driver filed an unfair dismissal claim seeking compensation.

In the decision, the Fair Work Commission found that urinating at the entrance to the distribution centre “is not conduct that could be described as ‘polite and courteous’ or ‘professional’”. However, despite the parties agreeing that it was inappropriate to urinate on a customer’s warehouse, and despite the rules being clearly stated in the driver manual, the transport company was still found to have unfairly dismissed the driver.

“At no stage was any allegation put to the applicant in writing, nor the extent of the evidence explained to him. Further, some relevant information, such as the length of the ban from (the supermarket chain), was not given to the applicant,” said the judge.

The Commission found that an employer’s investigation was unsatisfactory and it failed to provide a reasonable opportunity or the employee to have a support person present. Specifically, it found:

• The investigation was not conducted in a way which enabled or encouraged the employee to inform the HR Manager of medical reasons for his conduct, in this case diabetes
• The employee should have been given an opportunity to respond (to the reason) for dismissal prior to the dismissal decision
• No one properly explained the allegations, the evidence and the consequences if substantiated
• The employee was not given an opportunity to show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken (including his dismissal)
• Although the employee did not expressly request a support person during interactions with the HR Manager – the manner in which workplace investigation was conducted, in essence, unreasonably refused the employee the opportunity to have a support person present

The Commission’s decision emphasises the importance of clearly explaining the allegation to an alleged wrongdoer, explaining the relevant evidence against the person and providing specific relevant information. iHR believes that the ability to have challenging conversations to address inappropriate workplace behaviour is a skill required by all employers.


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