Aggressive Conduct as Reasonable Grounds for Employee Dismissal

by Feb 28, 2022All Posts, Fair Work, Human Resources

Do you have an employee who is consistently aggressive, easily angered, intimidating, and generally makes the work environment unpleasant? In accordance with Fair Work, any employee who behaves in such a manner could potentially be issued a warning or a termination on the basis of general or gross misconduct.

Recently, there have been many ‘unfair dismissal’ claims made in Australia in response to misconduct, with many being ruled against and validating the employer’s decision.  A recent case saw an employee dismissed for the gross misconduct of bullying and harassment within the workplace, with evidence of employee aggressive and inappropriate behaviour within work meetings and when approached about disrespectful or intimidating behaviour to colleagues, and making comments of an inappropriate and derogatory nature towards management.

This case was adjourned for almost a year, as the employee was deemed unfit to participate in the investigative procedure or to partake in ‘show cause’ meetings due to mental health concerns. Despite the delay and the mental health considerations of the employee, Fair Work ruled the dismissal as reasonable and the employee was granted 5 weeks’ pay in lieu of notice.

The key factors that Fair Work consider upon deliberation of ruling against claims are:

  • How the employee’s behaviour negatively impacts upon colleagues and the work environment;
  • Employee remorse and contrition demonstrated within response to actions or behaviour in question. Ability to apologise for the seriousness of the accused misconduct;
  • Employee ability to acknowledge and accept what stands as reasonable behaviour within the workplace; and
  • An employee’s effort or insight demonstrating that this behaviour will not reoccur.

If an act is considered, ‘Gross Misconduct’ it can warrant immediate dismissal, particularly in circumstances where this has caused harm to another or property within the workplace. This is inclusive of behaviour or actions that demonstrate an employee’s intentional disregard for workplace expectations, rules, policy, and environment, that negatively impacts upon the wellbeing of others and productivity. Employers and employees should be aware that bullying behaviour is an intentional act, particularly that which demonstrates aggression, intimidation, humiliation, exclusion, displaying of offensive material, initiation processes, practical jokes, pressure to perform or behave in a particular manner, and pressure to meet unreasonable work expectations in consideration of employee role and ability.

The AHR Team have helped many businesses to navigate the field of HR, with expertise in implementing Employee Management Initiatives, Employment Relation Support and third-party Investigative process for misconduct and workplace claims. Through proper regulation and management of employees, an employer can adequately track employee performance and have documented efforts to assist with identifying and evidencing acts of misconduct. Call the AHR Team today on 1800 577 515 to discuss how we can assist you with your employee management needs.

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