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Recent Employment Law cases you may have missed

1. Employee sacked for bullying HR staff after demotion for racial abuse

The Commission has endorsed the dismissal of a worker who had initiated a campaign of email harassment of HR staff who had been involved in his earlier demotion. The demotion followed an investigation into allegations the worker had called an Indian colleague “smelly” and had encouraged a co-worker to smell the colleague’s shirt. The Commission found the worker had been given repeated warnings his racial comments were unacceptable and been told to “grow up”. This case is a reminder to take firm, effective and timely action against staff for any racist comments. Ee v Endeavour Energy [2016] FWC 186 (10 March 2016)

2. Bankers $3M payout overturned on appeal

A Supreme Court decision awarding a redundant bank chief $2,932,692 (plus interest) has been dismissed by the NSW Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal rejected the view the Bank’s redundancy policy was incorporated into the banker’s contract of employment. Accordingly, the total payment was reduced by $2.5M paid as an ex-gracia amount as the banker failed to sign a deed of release. This case raises the special importance of having up to date contracts for staff, particularly executives. McKeith v RBS Group [2016] NSWCA 36 (9 March 2016)

3. Ex employee restrai

ned from setting up rival business

The Federal Court has ordered an engineer to pay court costs incurred in obtaining orders to prevent him using confidential information and IP taken after he had been dismissed. The Court found that by using lists of clients as well as pricing and reporting templates stolen from his ex employer, the engineer had breached his contract of employment as well as his common law duty of fidelity and his equitable duty of confidence, both owed to his former employer. This case highlights the need for effective and enforceable restraint provisions in your contracts of employment. Technology P/L v Aladesaye [2016] FCA 203(4 March 2016)

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