Aggressive railwayman dismissed for breaching company code of conduct: the value of detailed contracts and policies

The long-running case of a railway employee, dismissed for assaulting ticket inspectors after refusing to produce a ticket in 2010, underlines the importance of clear employment contracts and associated policies and codes of conduct.

 

Despite having an employee rail pass, the worker allegedly replied, “No, I don’t f..king have a ticket,” and assaulted the inspectors after being asked to show a valid ticket and identification.  He was arrested by police at Campbelltown station and charged with Common Assault.

He allegedly told the inspectors:

“You’re f..ked; he will know all about this by Monday morning. You assaulted me. I’m going to make a lot of money out of this.”

The incident led to an investigation by the employer. During that investigation, the employer discovered that the employee had, what appeared to be undeclared, criminal convictions, including assault. This lead the employer to initiate a second investigation, conducting both investigations simultaneously.

As a result of both inspections, a number of allegations were sustained by the employer against the employee. The employer held the view that the allegations were thoroughly investigated and appropriately substantiated, finding breaches of its Code of Conduct, the terms and conditions expressed in its “Your Employee Travel Passes” Booklet and its Enterprise Agreement.

The employer contended:

• it needed to have confidence that its employees, when on duty, and at all times when travelling on their travel pass, whether on or off duty, act in accordance with its Code and set an example to members of the public;

• the employee had, at best, failed to deny the allegations throughout the investigation or, at worse, been unco-operative;

• the employee had not expressed any remorse or contrition for his conduct, or expressed any level of regret to the six Transit Officers who had been subjected to his actions and abuse; and • it is not in the public interest for an employee, who took such misleading and aggressive actions, to remain in the employ of the employer:

 

This matter was the subject of numerous costly appeals, and counter appeals, to the Transport Appeals Bureau (NSW) and the New South Wales Industrial Commission, eventually ending with the employer’s decision to sack the employee.

Five years later, the NSW Industrial Court has allowed the employer to seek punishment of the former employee for his contempt in failing to repay the amount he received in wages, between a stay on his reinstatement and the hearing of his appeal.

Drawing up an employment contract that states the terms of employment, as agreed by the employer and the employee, is good practice.  Despite the length of the abovementioned case, the employer won, basing their case on the employee’s obligations to abide by certain codes and policies.

Contracts outline the rights and obligations of both parties, including the obligations to adhere to workplace policies and codes of conduct.  Explicitly written contracts are even more vital when there is no Enterprise Agreement to reference.

iHR Australia will develop new contracts of employment or review any existing contracts, relevant awards and legislation when developing new contracts for your organisation.

 

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