Perth Freightlines told to pay up over unfair dismissal

Perth Freightlines ordered to cover costs of former employee's unfair dismissal claim on top of a payout for sacking him

By Brad Gardner | June 30, 2010

A trucking operator has been ordered to pay the costs of its former employee’s unfair dismissal claim on top of a payout for sacking him.

Fair Work Australia yesterday upheld Andrew Bennett’s claim for Perth Freightlines to cover undisclosed fees incurred by him for conciliation, arbitration and his bid to recover costs.

Fair Work Senior Deputy President Lea Drake ruled that Perth Freightlines failed to engage Bennett in conciliation and did not adequately respond to his settlement claim before the matter went to arbitration in March this year.

"This involved Mr Bennett in costs which were thrown away and caused further preparation to be made for a second conciliation," Drake says.

Bennett was sacked last year over claims he tried to sell company property to truck drivers.

In the unfair dismissal hearing on March 4 this year, Drake refuted the company’s assertion Bennett committed misconduct and awarded him $3,691.42 compensation.

Drake accepted Bennett’s evidence he was joking when he offered to sell dangerous goods kits for $50 during a meeting of employees and managers.

"I have determined Mr Bennett did not attempt to sell company property…I have determined that there was not a valid reason for the termination of Mr Bennett’s employment," Drake said at the time.

While Bennett was notified of the company’s allegations, Drake ruled he was not given time to respond to them.

Under the Fair Work Act, parties can be held financially accountable if they do not participate in conciliation proceedings and fail to respond to proposed settlements.

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