A man accused of defecating in the shower at his workplace has lost his unfair dismissal bid
A man accused of defecating in the shower at his workplace has lost his unfair dismissal bid, despite being found innocent of the brazen bathroom behaviour.
The worker was dismissed from his role as a coke plant gas regulator at the Port Kembla Steelworks in June last year for ‘inappropriate and socially unacceptable behaviour and unacceptable timekeeping’.
But news.com.au reported that the sacking came from the fact that he often left the plant without authorisation and engaged in ‘inappropriate and socially unacceptable behaviour and unacceptable timekeeping’ – not because he defecated in the staff showers.
The man strenuously denied the company’s allegations.
A worker was dismissed from the Port Kembla Steelwork for ‘socially unacceptable behaviour’
Fair Work Commissioner Bernie Riordan said does not believe the man defecated in the shower
‘[The worker] claims that whilst he was showering he noticed that the drain was blocked and that ‘floaty stuff’ started coming out of the drain,’ Fair Work Commissioner Bernie Riordan said in his statement.
‘[The worker] claims that he tried to push the floating material back down the drain with his hands and used his feet to act like a plunger. I note that [he] wears rubber thongs when he showers.
‘[He] allegedly stated … that it looked like faeces. When leaving the shower block with his colleague, [he] is claimed to have said to his colleagues, ‘Look at this shit’.’
The man’s supervisor, operations manager Victoria Collins, said that it was ‘not normal behaviour’ to use his hands and feet to try to unblock the drain, continue to shower in the contaminated stall and then go home without reporting the incident.
‘I would say any employee proved to do that needs to be sacked,’ Ms Collins told Fair Work, pointing out that he could have moved cubicles, but ‘chose to stay in the polluted shower’.
‘I have other members who also work in that industry and they have a right to a health and safe workplace and environment so I think that if a person did that sort of stuff my main concern will be about the rest of the workforce.’
Operations manager Ms Collins doesn’t understand why the man didn’t change shower stalls
Mr Riordan noted that the employee in questions wears rubber thongs when he in the showers
While acknowledging Ms Collin’s reasoning, Mr Riordan said: ‘An accusation or finding on a behavioural issue such as defecating in a shower has widespread and ongoing ramifications for the accused individual…It is fair to say that any positive finding would stamp [him] with an unwelcomed level of public notoriety.
‘While the offending material may have in fact belonged to [the worker], I do not accept that [he] possesses the human qualities, or lack thereof, to deliberately defecate in the shower,’ he said.
Mr Riordan found that BlueScope had no reason to sack the man based on the shower incident, but found his timekeeping ‘appalling’ enough to warrant termination.
Mr Riordan found that BlueScope had no reason to sack the man based on the shower incident
Despite being cleared of the shower incident, the man was fired for ‘non-attendance’ to work
The employee had repeatedly and deliberately left the Steelworks plant without permission to ‘conduct his own personal affairs’ – including one instance where he left for more than six hours.
‘Not only is such behaviour fraudulent, but it creates serious safety issues for [his] work colleagues who were unaware of his non-attendance,’ he said.
‘In a hazardous work location like the coke plant, I find [his] actions in deliberately contravening the ‘Leaving Work Early Policy’ falls within the boundaries of serious misconduct.
‘I am satisfied that [his] summary dismissal was an appropriate and proportionate penalty for his conduct. [The] termination was not harsh, unjust or unreasonable.’