A worker has lost his unfair dismissal claim after being sacked for accepting gifts and taking ‘bribes’ from subcontractors.
The Fair Work Commission found the employee breached company policies in addition to engaging in serious misconduct.
Worker sacked for taking ‘bribes’
Kaushang Shah worked as a dispatch supervisor for Team Global Express Pty Ltd (TGE).
The role required him to allocate work to subcontracted drivers.
Mr Shah accepted a gift of two bottles of scotch whisky from one subcontractor driver at a restaurant.
He also received a bribe in the form of construction of a deck at his home.
Both were allegedly in return for favourable job allocations.
A subsequently workplace investigation found Mr Shah had engaged in serious misconduct and dismissed him.
‘Framed’ by subcontractor
During his unfair dismissal hearing, Mr Shah argued that TGE failed to provide procedural fairness describing the company’s investigation as “flawed and biased”.
He claimed that the company failed to investigate “all avenues of enquiry”.
For example, he argued investigators failed to make sufficient enquiries about a subcontractor’s income and the jobs allocated to him.
He even accused that subcontractor of framing him.
Moreover, he argued that TGE “should have obtained video footage of the restaurant,” which he said “would have shown that he did not walk out with a bag containing the bottles of scotch.”
TGE policies state:
“Serious misconduct may occur on-site or off-site in the course of or related to an employee or contractor’s employment or engagement. Serious misconduct includes but is not limited to: engaging in conduct to obtain a personal benefit (financial or otherwise).”
“[The employer] prohibits the giving or receiving of gifts, entertainment or hospitality that could affect either party’s impartiality, influence a business decision, or lead to the improper performance of an official duty.
Employees must ensure that the giving or receiving of gifts, entertainment or hospitality:
- is for legitimate business purposes and is not given or received, or could not be perceived to be given or received, as a bribe or kickback;
- is transparent and declared (where required).
“Under no circumstances should the following be given or received: gifts of alcohol or tobacco.
“Employees who do not strictly comply with the policy will face disciplinary action which may include counselling, formal warnings or termination.”
NEXT READ Serious misconduct
Breach of policies
The Fair Work Commission investigated several statements from co-workers and subcontractors regarding Mr Shah’s alleged misconduct.
It concluded they were “more credible” than the worker’s claims.
Consequently, the Commission found he breached the employer’s policies.
“[The supervisor] breached the employer’s policy by engaging in conduct to obtain a personal benefit, namely the scotch,” it said.
“Accepting a gift of scotch by a subcontractor to whom his role involved allocating work, could affect [his] impartiality, and lead to the improper performance of his duty in allocating work to drivers.”
Furthermore, the Commission found Mr Shah engaged in serious misconduct when subcontractors completed work on his home deck for free.
“Shah’s action in accepting the work on his decking at home, with no intention of paying for it, was serious misconduct and constitutes a further valid reason for his dismissal.
“He breached the employer’s Conflicts of Interest Policy, by actively accepting the decking work without any intention to pay for it.
“This could affect [his] objectivity or independence of his decision in performing his role at TGE.”
The Commission subsequently found TGE had a valid reason for dismissal and dismissed Mr Shah’s claim.
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