Linfox overruled on 'three strike policy'

Linfox forced to reinstate truck driver after commission ruled it could not fire him under its 'three strike policy'

By Brad Gardner

Linfox has reinstated a truck driver after the NSW Industrial Relations Commission ruled it had no right to fire him under its ‘three strike policy’.

Linfox in April this year fired Michael Parker after alleging he was involved in five accidents over three years which included crashing into a car at Lane Cove.

According to the company, Parker was responsible for exceeding damages of $500 in three of the five accidents.

Under its three strike policy, Linfox can fire any driver involved in three accidents over a three-year period causing more than $500 in damage.

But the Transport Workers Union (TWU), which acted on behalf of Parker, told the Commission Linfox was wrong to fire the driver because it did not provide any evidence detailing the costs of the accidents.

The commission ruled in Parker’s favour, saying Linfox had an obligation to support its claims.

"I believe it is appropriate that where an employee receives a strike against him and that employee requests from the company evidence of the direct repair costs of the damage then such evidence must be provided," Commissioner David Ritchie says.

"As an employee’s job could well be on the line, providing appropriate documentation can only support the company’s actions."

Parker was returned to his position in the company but was denied backpay from April to November because he attempted to evade responsibility for one of the accidents that led to his termination.

The commission heard Parker was accused of hitting a letterbox but denied doing so despite red paint and tyre marks being found at the scene and a witness identifying him.

"It is my finding that Mr Parker was ware of what damage his vehicle had done to the letterbox and what damage the vehicle itself had sustained, but did state this when given the opportunity. He therefore misled the company," Ritchie says.

Ritchie says Parker sought to escape responsibility because he feared being fired by Linfox. In Parker’s view, he was only responsible for two of the five incidents and claiming responsibility for the latest accident may have triggered the three strike policy.

"He knew of the company’s three strike policy and the probable ramifications to his employment," Ritchie says.

During the hearing, Parker changed his testimony from accepting responsibility to denying any involvement.

Linfox claimed Parker was firstly responsible for a small scratch on one of its trucks in October 2005.

The company then claimed he caused $1000 in damage to the corner of a truck trailer in August 2007. Parker claimed the damage only amounted to $200.

He was then held responsible by the company for damaging the air lines of a prime mover, which cost more than $530. Parker claimed this was excessive.

As well as the letterbox incident in March this year, Parker then caused $12,200 in damages after crashing into a car in April.

Parker told the commission he should have had two strikes next to his name because the incidents in 2005 and April 2008 exceeded $500 in costs.

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