Have you accidentally sent an email about a person directly to them? Imagine doing this at work – would you become an unfair dismissal case study? If you made unfavourable comments about a client, and send it to the client, would your employer have sufficient grounds for dismissal?
The short answer is yes.
Unfair Dismissal Case Study: Georgia Sologinkin v Cosmetic Suppliers Pty Ltd T/A Coy
Last year, Ms Sologinkin was dismissed from her job of sixteen years as a Key Accounts Manager. It was on grounds that her employer had lost confidence and trust in her as an employee. Ms Sologinkin accidentally sent an email that contained derogatory comments about her clients (including highly offensive references to a client’s ethnicity and national origin) to the clients themselves. Many clients complained about the email and withdrew their dealings with the company.
Consequently, Ms Sologinkin received a written notice from her employer. It was to discuss the incident in a disciplinary meeting. The notice explained that her conduct could amount to serious misconduct and that she could be dismissed. The notice also allowed her to bring a support person with her to the disciplinary meeting.
However, Ms Sologinkin then went on personal leave, citing work-related stress. The disciplinary meeting could not go ahead.
Her employer then wrote to Ms Sologinkin and invited her to provide a written explanation of the incident. This was in lieu of the disciplinary meeting. In her written explanation, Ms Sologinkin stated that she had not intended to send the email to the clients and was, at that time, under a great deal of stress.
After considering her written explanation, her employer dismissed Ms Sologinkin. The gravity of her conduct outweighed her excuses. As a result, Ms Sologinkin brought an unfair dismissal claim against her former employer.
The Fair Work Commission dismissed Ms Sologinkin’s application. The commission found that her former employer had a valid reason for terminating her. The commission also found that even if the email had not been sent to the clients themselves, the comments were still entirely inappropriate. This is especially true since Ms Sologinkin’s position was to manage relations with key customers.
What Can We Learn From this Case Study?
As an employers it is important for you to follow a thorough disciplinary process. As an employee even if you have a perfect employment record, you can still be dismissed if your misconduct is sufficiently serious. And finally, we can all learn to always check the recipient of an email before hitting ‘send’!
If you have any questions regarding unfair dismissal, please get in touch.