Football fans across the country have been dealt a serious blow on the cusp of new AFL and NRL seasons. The Federal Magistrate’s Court has dismissed a once-in-a-lifetime farewell game as grounds for sick leave.
The decision, by Federal Magistrate Philip Burchardt, opens the door to employers to dispute suspect medical certificates in “exceptional circumstances”.
Ardent Essendon fan Nathan Anderson received a medical certificate from a Footscray medical clinic to attend the final round Bombers versus Eagles game in Perth last year. It was the farewell match for Essendon legend coach Kevin Sheedy and club icon James Hird.
“It was appropriate to describe the day as a very, very emotional day for someone who’s mad about football like me,” Anderson told the court.
Employer Crown Melbourne sacked Anderson when it discovered what lay behind his emotional distress.
Anderson sued Crown Melbourne for a breach of s659 of the Workplace Relations Act 1996, which prohibits unlawful termination due to illness or injury. Crown Melbourne successfully contested the validity of the forward-dated medical certificate.
Sport fans no doubt will be distraught to find that “footy fever” cannot be accepted as a medically diagnosed condition.