Legal

Aldi ordered to pay former manager more than $37,000 following unfair dismissal case

Broede Carmody /

 

A former Aldi manager has been awarded more than $37,000 by the Fair Work Commission after she was unfairly dismissed in June over alleged conduct towards fellow employees.

Therese Schieh started working for Aldi in 2006 and was made a manager of the supermarket’s Chadstone store in November 2013.

In January this year, Fair Work heard Schieh received a performance review that noted she was a “great trainer and leader”.

However five months later, Aldi terminated her employment over issues associated with her conduct.

After the former manager lodged an application for unfair dismissal, the Fair Work Commission  was told by Aldi that Schieh belittled and bullied “certain employees” and used CCTV footage to “surveil staff members”.

Aldi argued that because of these reasons, the dismissal was justified, citing the need to protect the welfare of other employees and a high staff turnover rate.

The commission heard allegations that Schieh left staff members demoralised and, at times, in tears.

But Schieh rejected these claims, telling the commission she was a firm manager but not a harsh or unreasonable boss.

In her ruling, deputy president Anne Gooley said she was unable to find evidence that Schieh bullied or belittled employees.

In regards to the clams of monitoring staff using Aldi’s CCTV footgae, Gooley ruled the policies submitted by Aldi were “not clear” and therefore she could not determine if the former manager had breached company policies.

The commission subsequently ruled there was not a valid reason for the termination of Schieh’s employment because while she was given an opportunity to respond to the allegations against her, she was not provided with an opportunity to respond to the reasons for the dismissal.

“What occurred was inconsistent with Aldi’s own policy,” Gooley said in her judgment.

“The termination of her employment was a disproportionate response to that conduct.”

As a result, Aldi was ordered to pay Schieh $37,450, minus tax, along with $3557.75 to her superannuation fund.

A spokesperson for Aldi told SmartCompany the supermarket has accepted the commission’s ruling.

“Aldi Australia will abide by the decision of the Fair Work Commission and will not be commenting further,” the spokesperson said.  

SmartCompany was unable to contact Schieh for comment. 

 

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Broede Carmody

Broede Carmody is a former senior SmartCompany reporter. Before this, he was a co-editor of RMIT University's student magazine Catalyst.

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