Maurice Blackburn and the SDA win job back for Metcash worker unfairly sacked over minor incident
23 September 2020
Leading law firm Maurice Blackburn Lawyers and the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA) have successfully won a battle to reinstate a warehouse worker who was sacked after 28 years of service over a minor workplace accident.
Distribution giant Metcash dismissed the long-serving employee in February following a minor collision involving two tugger machines at the company’s Laverton warehouse.
The dismissal devastated the employee, whose work was important to him from a self-esteem as well as an economic perspective.
But the SDA took up the case, and this week the Fair Work Commission found the incident wasn’t sufficient to warrant termination and ordered his reinstatement with back pay.
“That there was no valid reason for the dismissal of the Applicant leads me to conclude that the dismissal was harsh, unjust or unreasonable,” said FWC Commissioner Michelle Bissett, who also noted the employee would struggle to find other work due to COVID-19.
SDA Victorian Secretary Michael Donovan said the union was very pleased with the decision and looked forward to the SDA member returning to work.
“Work is incredibly important for the self-esteem and economic well-being of workers. The loss of a job can be devastating for workers and their families. This is why the SDA is out there every day fighting for members and protecting their rights at work,” Mr Donovan said.
Maurice Blackburn Principal Daniel Victory said the case confirms that employers must have a valid reason before dismissing employees and the importance of union membership.
“This case demonstrates that employees are sometimes dismissed for even minor incidents. Without the backing of the SDA it is unlikely that this employee would have been able to win this case. It’s a powerful reminder that the best way to achieve justice and dignity at work is by joining your union,” Mr Victory said.
Metcash must reinstate the employee by September 15.