Zero tolerance too harsh, Linfox told

Linfox must pay ex-manager $27,500 after he was forced out for breaching zero tolerance policy

Zero tolerance too harsh, Linfox told
Zero tolerance too harsh, Linfox told
By Brad Gardner | January 13, 2010

Linfox has been ordered to pay a former employee more than $27,000 after he was forced out for breaching its zero tolerance policy.

The Australian Industrial Relations Commission was told Leslie Dobbie last year hired an unqualified truck driver that did not meet Linfox’s standards and then failed to immediately report the damage the driver caused to a trailer.

Linfox argued Dobbie’s actions put at risk the safety of employees and the public - a direct contravention of the company’s Vision Zero campaign that takes a strict approach to unsafe behaviour and practices.

Dobbie, who was a manager, was given the choice of being sacked or resigning, with Linfox saying it must stringently apply Vision Zero because it takes its duty of care to its employees and road users seriously.

But Commissioner Anna Lee Cribb ruled Linfox’s actions were too harsh and in Dobbbie’s 27 years of service with the operator he had a "relatively unblemished record with the company".

"I find, on balance, that the termination of the applicant’s employment was harsh in all of the circumstances, in that the termination was disproportionate to the applicant’s conduct," Cribb says.

Although Dobbie sought to be reinstated, he received $27,538.37 compensation.

Despite her ruling, Cribb says Linfox had a valid reason for terminating Dobbie’s employment.

"In not following the company’s policies and procedures…the applicant potentially put at risk the safety of other employees and the general public," Cribb says.

Representatives for Linfox argued Dobbie should not be reinstated because it would undermine the company’s policies and that Linfox no longer trusted him.

Cribb agreed, saying Dobbie was in a position of trust which had been broken.

"In all of the circumstances of this matter, it is my view that reinstatement is inappropriate." Cribb says.

"As this trust has been broken, it would not be a tenable situation for the applicant to be returned to his position."

Dobbie began as a driver at Linfox in 1982 before being promoted to a shift manager in 2002.

The matter was originally sent to conciliation in May last year before Dobbie elected to have his case heard.

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