Booth Transport forced to reimburse driver despite sacking him for being unable to complete his job
By Brad Gardner | November 27, 2009
Booth Transport’s decision to sack a driver whose injuries limited him from completing tasks has backfired on the company.
The Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) has ordered the big-name carrier to pay 12 weeks wages to long haul driver Keith Green for unfair dismissal.
Booth’s decided to terminate the driver due to his inability to lift and lower side gates and open and close side curtains because of injuries suffered from a road accident in 2005.
But Commissioner Frank Raffaelli says the company did not follow a correct process.
Raffaelli says an interim report on Green’s fitness used by Booth that said he was unfit to drive was unclear on whether the examining doctor had been consulted or who decided the driver could not perform his role.
“This is most unsatisfactory,” Raffaelli says.
Furthermore, he says there was no discussion with the driver about his shortcomings and possible alternative arrangements, while Green or his doctor were not given a list of what his job requirements were.
“As to whether the applicant [Green] was given an opportunity to respond, I consider that given his six years of service the applicant should have been given an opportunity to put his side of things,” Raffaelli says.
“In all the circumstances, I find that the applicant’s termination was harsh, unjust or unreasonable.”
But Green lost his bid to be reinstated because the AIRC ruled he did not provide enough evidence to show he could fulfil the role.
The commission was told the driver could not open or close side curtains or use the side gates. Raffaelli ruled that Booth’s was entitled to require Green to perform these duties.
“…it is now probable that the applicant cannot perform the inherent requirements of the job,” Raffaelli says.
“In those circumstances, I find it inappropriate to order his reinstatement.”
Booth Transport has depots in South Australia, Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia.
It specialises in bulk liquids and warehousing, with the company saying it services over 95 percent of the wine industry.