The Fair Work Commission has criticised an employee who brought an unfair dismissal claim, which it says is “riddled with” nonsensical propositions and “downright lies”.
Miroslav Vujica was a forklift driver with TNT Australia and claimed his dismissal was harsh, unjust and unreasonable.
TNT dismissed Vujica after investigating him following reports he had been performing work for a competitor, Toll, while absent from TNT on workers’ compensation.
The Fair Work Commission found TNT had a valid reason to terminate Vujica because of his conduct during the investigation.
As part of the investigation, TNT interviewed Vujica but during the interview Vujica was not truthful in some of his responses and refused to answer some questions.
The Fair Work Commission found employees have a duty to cooperate with an employer’s investigation into their conduct.
“Where an employee deliberately sets out to lie during an investigation, it is even more serious than a lack of cooperation or failure to disclose relevant information,” commission deputy president Sams said.
“It could well be viewed as misconduct of itself.”
Sams was scathing of Vujica’s evidence in the unfair dismissal case.
“I find the applicant’s evidence to be riddled with nonsensical and irrelevant propositions, utterly ridiculous and implausible explanations and, regrettably, downright lies,” he said.
“There was not a skerrick of evidence of any conspiracy by TNT against him.”
Sams found it was “little wonder” that TNT dismissed Vujica.
“This is a figment of a very colourful imagination,” he said.
“I wonder whether he actually believes his own nonsense or whether it is some sort of game for him to respond to allegations against him by making unsubstantiated allegations of his own.”
Emma Hoy, special counsel at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, told SmartCompany employees and employers need to be careful how they approach an investigation.
“Being dishonest during an investigation can in of itself be a reason for termination, regardless of the matters being investigated,” she says.
“An employee seeking secondary employment will usually need to notify the employer first, [Vujica] has unnecessarily created a whole web of lies when all he needed to do was notify his employer.”
A spokesperson for TNT told SmartCompany Vujica’s claim did not have any merit and TNT was confident the Fair Work Commission would find in TNT’s favour.