Trucking company in the right, but still has to pay compensation to driver

By: Brad Gardner


JR Bulk Liquid Transport ordered to compensate truckie sacked for unsafe driving habits.

Trucking company in the right, but still has to pay compensation to driver
JR Bulk Liquid Transport has been ordered to compensate Anthony Davey for unfairly dismissing him.

 

JR Bulk Liquid Transport has been ordered to compensate a truckie it sacked for unsafe driving habits, despite being told it had a valid reason to dismiss him.

In another case of procedural issues leaving a transport company exposed to an unfair dismissal claim, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) found that JR Bulk Liquid Transport did not follow the necessary steps for terminating an employee.

The bulk milk transporter decided to fire Anthony Davey in May this year after a series of incidents in the space of one year that included speeding on multiple occasions and hitting a car.

JR Bulk Liquid Transport had received customer complaints about Davey’s driving and told the FWC it sacked him because his actions jeopardised the company’s reputation and he was unlikely to change his behaviour.

"These are sound, defensible and well founded reasons to terminate his employment," FWC deputy president Anna Booth says.

"I find that the dismissal was neither unjust nor unreasonable. However I find that the dismissal was unfair because of the way in which it was done. Mr Davey was not afforded procedural fairness and I find as a consequence that his dismissal was harsh and therefore unfair."

JR Bulk Liquid Transport held a meeting with Davey on May 12 about his actions and subsequently decided to sack him. However, Booth says Davey was not on notice that his employment may be terminated at the meeting and went into it not expecting to be fired.

Booth says Davey was not given the opportunity to respond to the reason for his dismissal and was prevented from having a support person present at the meeting.

There were no specialist human resource functions at the New South Wales depot where Davey was based.

"However JR Bulk Liquid Transport is a large enough employer to have developed policies and procedures for dismissing employees and I would have expected a more considered approach to be taken to addressing Mr Davey’s situation," Booth says.

JR Bulk Liquid Transport was ordered to compensate Davey the equivalent of four weeks of pay for unfair dismissal.

The case is similar to a recent unfair dismissal hearing involving Sargeant Transport and truck David Cowan.

The trucking firm sacked Cowan after he was caught urinating outside a Woolworths distribution centre.

However, Sargeant Transport did not tell Cowan of the misconduct allegations against him or give him an opportunity to respond when he was told he was sacked.

It was ordered to pay Cowan $16,128 in compensation, minus the amount he received in lieu of notice.

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