Mr Theodore Samaras v BoysTown (U2014/15031) [2015] FWC 1762 SENIOR DEPUTY PRESIDENT RICHARDS

For purposes of establishing a valid reason for the dismissal of Mr Samaras, BoysTown relied upon his conduct in forging client signatures on 13 occasions in respect of three separate clients, along with Ms Samaras’ lack of honesty in disclosing the forgeries prior to discovery, which was a breach of BoysTown values and behaviours relating to integrity, honesty and accountability.

There is no dispute that Mr Samaras forged the signatures as alleged.

In forging the 13 signatures in relation to the three client files, Mr Samaras revealed a lack of sufficient regard to the professional and ethical framework in which the BoysTown organisation sought to conduct its business.

However, the DP concluded that Mr Samaras’ conduct must be contextualised:

”His actions were not intended to procure a benefit for himself.

“At most, the only benefit that he accrued was being able to conclude the administrative requirements of archiving files more expeditiously than by completing the required procedures. That is, the forging of the signatures saved him some time.

“The signatures that were forged were in relation to three clients who had completed the Youth Connections program some nine months previously. The files were inactive, and were being closed, once again, for purposes of archiving.

“There was no pattern – or evidence of any further or more widespread – incidences of signatures being forged by Mr Samaras at anytime.”

The DP conceded that:

“While his employer is right to sanction Mr Samaras’ conduct in this regard, viewed objectively I do not consider the conduct to have been maliciously motivated or to be of such consequence (for the purposes of funding or perceptions by external stakeholders) that it warranted his dismissal.

“In addition, there does not appear to have been any discernible damage (to BoysTown’s public reputation or its funding prospects) arising from Mr Samaras’ conduct.”

“In essence, Mr Samaras unwisely overlooked his training and the obligations imposed upon him by his contract of employment and his employer’s procedures manuals, and (as he put it) lazily rushed to close a small number of files.”

 

“When viewed in this important, wider context, I do not consider Mr Samaras’ conduct to be of such an extreme nature that it warranted his dismissal. Nor do I consider that the scale and nature of the conduct was such that it on its own was sufficient to sever the bond of trust and confidence between Mr Samaras and BoysTown.”

The outcome being that the applicant retained his employment, but lostg the continuity of service (ie he was not paid for the time of dismissal to to reinstatement.

Comment: It is therefore appropriate that when making a decision to end someone’s employment, be aware that the punishment must fit the crime.

Greg Reiffel Industrial Relations & Human Resources Consulting has been providing the following services to businesses for over 30 years:

 

  • General HR and IR advisory service.
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Contact Greg on 0438 906 050 or mailto: greg@gregreiffelconsulting.com.au.