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Dismissal too harsh for "gobsmacked" and "defensive" employee

An employee who reacted strongly to complaints about his workplace behaviour was unfairly sacked when a warning would have sufficed, the Fair Work Commission has ruled.

In August 2020, the Transport Accident Commission employee was informally counselled after being accused of speaking to a colleague with an aggressive and offensive tone during a Zoom meeting.

The employer then engaged a consultant to explore and report on how the team could work more productively together. During a meeting to discuss the report, another worker – who was not present at the August meeting – read out a statement about the employee's behaviour.

That worker talked about being abused by a former partner, then warned that the employee's conduct during the Zoom meeting would have "triggered" her, and could have triggered other abuse survivors...

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