Unfair Dismissals, News

Railway Labourer of 39 years reinstated after dismissal.

In December last year Commissioner Simpson found the dismissal of Mr. Trevor Purves to be ‘’harsh” and ordered his employer Queensland Rail Transit Authority to reinstate him as well as pay him 50% of lost pay.

Mr. Purves was a loyal employee of 39 years, working for Queensland Rail since the age of 20, and holding an unblemished working record, never failing a drug or alcohol test until March 2022 which resulted in his termination.

In Mr. Purve’s submissions to the court he explained that the night before he was stood down for a positive result for alcohol after he had followed his usual after work routine, returning from work around 3:30pm and drinking his regular half bottle of Johnnie Walker scotch and coke before going to bed at 8:30pm. He also submitted that he had been tested 4 times that particular morning each test showing a different BAC, and that the tests were possibly faulty or apparatus wasn’t functioning properly.

Queensland Rail told the court that Mr. Purves had failed to comply with the company’s drug and alcohol policy and was over the prescribed limit of 0.000 BAC. After a 2-month investigation they terminated Mr. Purves in June 2022.

Commissioner Simpson considered the evidence and submissions from both parties and found that even though the employer did have a valid reason for dismissal and followed the correct procedures in terminating Mr. Purves, it was  “harsh’’ and “unfair” . The Commissioner’s decision weighed heavily on Mr. Purves genuine remorse in his actions, and confidence in him continuing his employment without any future misconduct, saying there are other reasonable disciplinary options for an employee with an impeccable record of 39 years. He also considered the significant adverse impact the termination had on the employee and his family, and the unlikelihood of Mr. Purves finding new employment at 60 years of age and within the area of his skills and experience.

The Commissioner emphasised that reinstatement is the primary remedy under the Fair Work Act, ordering Queensland Rail to reinstate Mr. Purves and pay him 50% rather than all of his lost wages, taking into consideration that he had breached company policy.

If you have been dismissed but are unsure of what warrants as “unfair” give us a call today on  08 9301 0850.