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Bottle Shop Worker Awarded $3,000 After ‘procedurally Disastrous’ Dismissal

Bottle shop worker awarded $3,000 after ‘procedurally disastrous’ dismissal

A bottle shop worker has been awarded $3,000 compensation after being unfairly dismissed for sexually harassing a customer.

The Fair Work Commission accepted his employer had a valid reason for dismissal. However, it also found that they failed to give procedural fairness.

Commissioner Katrina Harper-Greenwell described the dismissal as “nothing less than procedurally disastrous”.

‘Would you like a root?’

The man worked as a manager at the Beer Wine and Spirits bottle shop in Hobart for six years.

In March this year, the business sacked him for serious misconduct after he allegedly sexually harassed a female customer.

While at the counter, the customer claimed the manager said to her, “would you like a root hehehe receipt” while laughing and leering at her.

She said the manager’s conduct made her feel uncomfortable, and furthermore, alleged that he had spoken rudely to her in the past.

After receiving a written complaint from the customer, the bottle shop owner immediately stood the manager down on full pay before sacking him.


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Fair Work Commission

The Fair Work Commission heard from witnesses who described the manager as “a humorous character, an unforgettable character, hilarious, absolutely funny, a legend…”

However, it also heard from another customer who said he made her feel uncomfortable and that she did not appreciate his sense of humour.

It also heard of on-going tensions between the manager and the store’s owner.

The customer who made the sexual harassment complaint gave evidence which Commissioner Harper-Greenwell described as “convincing”.

” I am satisfied on the evidence before me that [the manager] made unwelcome comments of a sexual nature to [the customer] and, in making the comment, he caused her to feel offended and unsafe.”

The investigation

During the investigation, the store’s owner sought advice from the Tasmanian Hospitality Association and the Cellarbrations Corporate office.

Despite this, Commissioner Harper-Greenwell said the investigation involved “gross procedural unfairness”.

The investigator interviewed the customer, but not the bottle shop manager. The investigator refused to reveal the identity of the customer and also refused to show him CCTV footage of the incident.

Furthermore, the store’s owner only gave the manager four days to respond to the allegations in writing, which he denied.

“The dismissal of [the manager] was nothing less than procedurally disastrous. [He] was not provided with any form of procedural fairness.

“He was not afforded the full details of the complaint, was denied the information that should have been made available to him and, in its haste to dismiss him, [the employer] failed to provide [the manager] with an opportunity to respond to the reasons which it relied on for the termination of his employment”.

Bottle shop worker awarded $3,000

Commissioner Harper-Greenwell therefore found the dismissal unfair.

She subsequently ordered the bottle shop to pay the manager $3,000 compensation, despite the harassment.

“Due to the gross procedural unfairness, I make no deductions for the misconduct,” she said.


Commissioner Harper-Greenwell’s full decision

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