The Fair Work Commission rejected the unfair dismissal claim of a worker at Red Lea Chickens after he behaved aggressively towards other workers.
Michael Kongor was a process worker at Red Lea Chickens and took two days off with a work-related shoulder injury.
His employer did not know Kongor was going to be absent although he subsequently claimed his doctor had rung someone at his workplace.
When Kongor was given a warning about his absence, he got agitated with an HR officer and the financial controller, who felt harassed and even scared because of his behaviour.
After another absence Kongor was called to a meeting about his injury and suitable duties but he responded “aggressively”, arguing in a very loud voice. When Kongor was given a warning and was told to return to work, he refused.
Kongor stayed and continued to argue, talking over the top of the others, leaving one of them crying and shaking.
The incident ended when police were called and Kongor was escorted out of the building. His employment was then terminated without notice.
Despite the lack of notice given, the Fair Work Commission found Red Lea Chickens’ reasons for dismissing Kongor were valid.
Commission vice president Hatcher found the dismissal was not harsh, unjust or unreasonable.
“Kongor engaged in serious misconduct when he refused the lawful and reasonable direction to leave the meeting and continued to argue with those present in what can objectively be described as an aggressive and intimidating manner, and thereby caused distress to the female staff that were present,” vice president Hatcher found.
Andrew Douglas, lawyer at M&K Lawyers, told SmartCompany aggressive behaviour that develops into a pattern is a reason justifying dismissal.
“You can make some mistakes around procedural fairness where a worker is aggressive and belligerent and where their ultimate conduct is so utterly inconsistent with their contract of employment,” he says.
Douglas says Kongor’s conduct was “pretty frightening stuff” and in these circumstances “the court will forgive momentary lapses on procedure”.
“He was aggressive and rude and people were generally fearful of him, which justifies the haste in dismissing him”.
Red Lea Chickens declined to comment.