A woman has won her unfair dismissal claim after she was fired for making “disparaging” comments about her boss.
Hayley Bond, who was working at Tweed Heads carpet and flooring franchise Andersens, owned and operated by Wynbob Pty Ltd at the time of her dismissal, was awarded $2565 plus 9.5 per cent superannuation by the Fair Work Commission.
The former employee was sacked in August last year after she claimed the operator of Wynbob at the time of the dismissal, Bob Green, was drink driving.
According to the Fair Work Commission, Mr Green fired Ms Bond for reasons relating to her performance and behaviour, leaking confidential information and for alleged disparaging comments made about him by Ms Bond.
She claimed the “disparaging comments” were the reports she made to Andersens’ head office about Mr Green driving while intoxicated.
She told the Fair Work Commission that on November 17 2016, she was at work when she saw Mr Green “showing signs of intoxication such as slurred speech, confusion and forgetfulness in his speech, and being unable to walk properly”.
She said she was concerned when Mr Green then drove the company-branded car, so she alerted head office.
A person from head office contacted police and Mr Green was stopped by officers for a roadside breath test and recorded a blood alcohol level of 0.11.
According to Ms Bond, Mr Green lost his license on the spot.
In another incident on July 4 2017, Ms Bond claims Mr Green was “very intoxicated” and had an unsteady walk, slurred speech and was showing signs of confusion.
According to the Fair Work Commission report, Mr Green later slept on a sofa in the kitchenette area and slept for about two hours.
Ms Bond took a photo and sent it to Andersens’ chief executive Brian Cooper.
Mr Cooper went to the business and Mr Green’s wife was called to take him home.
Ms Bond said she had made the reports under the whistleblower’s provision in the employee handbook.
Mr Green denied being intoxicated and gave the Fair Work Commission a letter from a neurologist that stated he had a medical condition called “Dumping Syndrome”, which was related to a recent bypass surgery.
The condition causes fatigue and a rest is required, particularly after eating or strenuous work.
Wynbob responded to the unfair dismissal claims and said the termination was consistent with the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code.
The business claimed Wynbob made requests on a number of occasions for Ms Bond not to disclose private and confidential information to those outside the business.
It told the Fair Work Commission it continued to happen despite the warnings.
Wynbob said stories “fabricated” by Ms Bond spread to Andersens’ head office, sub-contracting installers, associates for Andersens, representatives of suppliers, adjoining businesses in the trading area and certain customers.
The Fair Work Commission report claimed Wynbob said it caused “non-repairable” damage.
Wynbob sold its Andersens franchise in November.
The Fair Work Commission said it was not up to them to determine whether Mr Green was intoxicated or whether he was suffering from a medical condition.
“Ms Bond held a view that Mr Green was intoxicated, and she reported her concerns back to Mr Cooper,” Fair Work Commissioner Jennifer Hunt said.
She said Ms Bond was within her rights to report Mr Green’s conduct for the benefit of relevant road users.
“I do not accept that Ms Bond reported her concerns for malicious reasons or in pursuit of a personal grudge,” Ms Hunt said.