A council worker sacked for driving a slasher recklessly and putting people at risk has lost his unfair dismissal claim.
Council worker sacked for driving slasher recklessly
The Gympie Regional Council sacked Ty Granger in May 2021 following a number of incidents involving a John Deere slasher.
Mr Granger had left the machine damaged requiring expensive repairs as a result.
The council had previously demoted Mr Granger for taking a council-owned railway iron for his personal use.
Mr Granger challenged both decisions at the QIRC.
Seven incidents in six months
During the six months before his dismissal, Mr Granger was involved in seven separate incidents while operating the new slasher.
These included damaging the machine after driving it into a light pole, and over a broken pipe head in the grass.
As a result, the council paid $3,040 in repairs.
Council supervisors also raised concerns about “rooster tails” of grass left by the slasher and using it twice without a shadow vehicle.
The railway iron
Mr Granger told the QIRC that in September 2018, his supervisor offered him the chance to buy a railway iron from the council depot.
He then transported it to his home on a council vehicle during work hours.
He said he returned it the following month after council management told him it should have been sold by tender.
An external investigation by Q Workplace Solutions found on the balance of probabilities Mr Granger had engaged in misconduct.
The council subsequently demoted him and cut his salary by $20,000 per year.
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Demotion justified and sacking not unfair
QIRC vice president Daniel O’Connor rejected both of Mr Granger’s claims, finding the demotion justified and sacking not unfair.
Mr O’Conner questioned the reliability of diaries provided by Mr Granger during the investigation into the rail iron matter.
Mr O’Connor also said the evidence showed Mr Granger took possession of the railway iron “for his personal use” without any arrangement in place to pay for it.
“The return of the railway iron only occurred when it became apparent to (Mr Granger) that inquiries were being made as to its whereabouts,” Mr O’Connor said.
Regarding the damage to the slasher, Mr O’Connor further accepted Mr Granger “was engaged in slashing activity without the support of the shadow vehicle, in breach of (safety and traffic guidelines)”.
“In doing so, (Mr Granger) breached a critical safety procedure … in defiance of the established safety procedures and in apparent contradiction to the instructions of his employer.”
The evidence demonstrated “a pattern of behaviour which reflects a lack of care and concern for safety” and “excessive” speed was a “significant factor” in the damage done to the machine.
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