AFTER the hard law of the year

AFTER the hard law of the year, a lighter look at workplace misbehaviour that happened in 2003.

One of the major supermarket chains has an eventful year with a plastic spider allegedly finding its way into a customer’s package of frozen meat.

An employee had placed the spider on the meat as a practical joke on a fellow employee who, unfortunately, failed to notice it before wrapping it and placing it on the supermarket shelf. At the time of publication, that practical joker’s fate was still unknown.

A leading resources company was also in the spotlight with one employee falling asleep while operating a bulldozer and another moonlighting as the driver of trotters at local race meetings while on paid sick leave.

In both cases the company’s disciplinary actions were held to have been justified.

There were a number of cases this year of workers being reinstated after having been sacked for drug or alcohol related incidents.

One case involved four print workers who each consumed up to five schooners of beer during their lunch hour.

Their employer’s inconsistent application of its drug and alcohol policy led to the workers being reinstated.

In another case, an employee was sacked after being caught smoking marijuana with two fellow employees at a work social function.

Although the dismissal was found to have been for a valid reason, it was held to have been procedurally unfair because only one of the employees involved was dismissed.

However, our favourite story for 2003 is about the Brisbane bus driver who was sacked after running his bus over four ducks.

The Transport Workers Union argued the driver had been forced to make a split second decision and "chose to put passenger safety first".

However, unfortunately for the driver, an eyewitness reported seeing the bus accelerate just before hitting the ducks.

Andrew Burnett, partner

9429 7414


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