A Sydney office cleaner was fired from his job on account of making himself a cup of coffee before his shift, which was classified as theft by his manager. He later won an unfair dismissal from the Fair Work Commission and got $9,187.20 as compensation, as well as his job back.
The international student worked as a part-time cleaner at Glad Group Pvt. Ltd. During one of his working days in January, he arrived 45 minutes early for work, where another staff welcomed him with a cup of coffee while he was cleaning. Upon spotting the duo having coffee together, the cleaner’s manager complained to the company boss.
The boss dismissed the cleaners for serious misconduct two days later based on stealing coffee from the company’s property. The manager stated that the cleaner and his colleague aren’t allowed to make coffee. To that, the cleaner apologized and said, “We are sorry. We did not intentionally want to upset you. We did not know we were not allowed to.”
However, the manager put a deaf ear to the cleaners’ confession and lodged a complaint against them to higher authorities. Adam Hatcher, vice president at Fair Work Commission, however, found the dismissal ‘unjust and unreasonable’, states the Daily Mail.
In his opinion, the conduct of the cleaner was a trivial misdemeanor and not a theft at all. “I consider that the conduct upon which his dismissal was based was insignificant to the extent that it could not constitute a sound, defensible or well-founded reason for his dismissal,” opined Hatcher.
The vice president compared the ‘absurd’ event by suggesting that if having coffee at the client’s property is theft, then consuming water drawn from the company’s tap on a hot day would also constitute an offense. Similarly, using the client’s toilet for an urgent call of nature without expressing prior permission to seniors would also mean trespass.
In an interview to the The Sydney Morning Herald, Mel Gatfield of United Voice NSW said, “His case is indicative of the exploitation and poor treatment many cleaners experience in Australia.”