Dismissal of Primo Food employee for discussing salary and compensation with co-workers is not wrongful dismissal

Meat factory worker who was fired for discussing his salary with co-workers LETS court battle as judge finds dismissal ‘reasonable’

  • Judge rules in favor of sacking Primo Foods, Brisbane’s quality assurance manager
  • Court ruled dismissal ‘reasonable’ because he breached privacy policy
  • The man is said to have discussed salary and contract offers with colleagues
  • The Australian Meat Workers’ Union alleged the dismissal was unlawful

A meat factory worker who was fired for discussing salary negotiations with co-workers has lost his wrongful dismissal case.

The Federal Circuit Court has ruled in favor of JBS-owned Primo Foods firing a Brisbane quality assurance officer after it found the former employee breached the company’s privacy policy.

The court found the dismissal to be “reasonable” in light of concerns about staff disputes and privacy and said it did not violate workplace rights.

The court has ruled in favor of Primo Foods firing a Brisbane quality assurance manager after finding the former employee breached the company’s privacy policy (stock image)

The court ruled the dismissal 'reasonable' as the man allegedly spoke to colleagues about the details of their new salary offers (stock image)

The court ruled the dismissal ‘reasonable’ as the man allegedly spoke to colleagues about the details of their new salary offers (stock image)

The case was brought by the Australian Meat Industry Employees Union who alleged the dismissal was unlawful and followed a previous protected bullying complaint the former employee had filed.

The court heard the officer had been employed at the company’s Wacol plant for just under six years.

Primo Foods found evidence that co-workers had discussed the details of their offers with the QA officer as he was aware of the proposed salary as well as the status of ongoing negotiations.

At the time, the company was moving its “quality team” from an hourly pay rate to a salary.

The court heard the former officer told his supervisor he knew his colleagues were unhappy with their offers.

He went on to say that some asked for more money, while others waited to sign the proposed contract, waiting to see how their overtime would be affected, according to court documents.

Primo Foods argued that obtaining and discussing confidential salary information violated its code of conduct, thus justifying the dismissal.

The former employee had also been tipped off about an unrelated matter and JBS considered his “dishonesty” to justify termination of the contract.

The Australian Meat Industry Employees Union brought the case on behalf of the dismissed worker, arguing that the dismissal was unlawful, which the judge disagreed with.

The Australian Meat Industry Employees Union brought the case on behalf of the dismissed worker, arguing that the dismissal was unlawful, which the judge disagreed with.

The employee received his termination letter in April 2021 with the stated reason being that he ‘was in possession of confidential information in violation of the Respondent’s Group Code of Conduct and Ethics – which he had discussions with team members about the confidential terms and conditions of their employment contracts; and that in doing so, in the course of his ongoing contract negotiations, was guilty of misconduct warranting termination of his employment.

As part of the legal proceedings, four individuals provided statements emphasizing the importance of keeping salary offers confidential.

One respondent, a human resources manager for the company, according to the court, had told “each of the employees at the time the salary offers were made to them that this information was confidential and that these offers were not to be shared with others. ‘other employees’. ‘

Judge Egan found that the former officer’s job had been reasonably terminated and that the company was entitled to take that action based on its assessment of the seriousness of the code of conduct breach.

The judge concluded that the human resources manager and the general manager were detached from the worker’s previous complaints and that they were entitled to heed an earlier warning given to him.

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