Email rage sacking backed
The Fair Work Commission says Murdoch University was justified in dismissing an employee who sent vicious expletive-laden emails to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
“Who the f*ck do you think you are changing the scope of the census by collecting my family members’ personal data electronically to be stored indefinitely,” one of the emails to ABS statistician David Kalisch said.
“My family’s personal information is none of your f*cking business! I worked in IT Mr Kalisch and know [sic] you won’t (actually can’t) keep that data safe.
“Tell you what why don’t you just use the data you stole from me for all these years and put that in your f*cking Census!”
A copy of the email was forwarded to a federal MP, and just a few hours later, the ABS contacted the university to complain.
“Irrespective of their personal opinions, I feel sure that you would expect a higher standard of conduct from staff engaging under the signature block and logo of your esteemed institution,” the complaint read.
After the prolific failure of the Census, the university employee again wrote to Mr Kalisch.
“No mention from you Mr Kalisch that any data was stolen during last night's DOS attack - positive about that are you? With hundreds of millions of dollars at your disposal you can't keep the servers safe for one night but I'm supposed to entrust you with my family's personal data storage for years?” the email read.
“Please send me a fine, PLEASE, I really want to have my day in court now you bunch of f*cking buffoons!”
The employee said he inadvertently sent the messages from his university email, and did not intend to damage the university.
He argued that his actions had not damaged his employer, despite the emails being leaked and posted on Twitter.
The university concluded that the emails breached its Code of Conduct and constituted serious misconduct warranting dismissal. The staff member was terminated and given four weeks’ salary.
The employee alleged unfair dismissal on the following grounds:
● the respondent did not have a valid reason to terminate his employment for serious misconduct
● he was not given an opportunity to respond to all the allegations made against him
● he was unreasonably refused a support person to assist in discussions relating to his dismissal
● his length of service and significant personal economic loss suffered since the termination makes the dismissal unfair
Murdoch University argued that the employee had already received a warning about email conduct in June 2016.
Commissioner Geoffrey Bull’s judgment said he had no difficulty deciding there was a valid reason for dismissal.
“While the language used by (the employee) may be common vernacular in some circles, when reduced to writing and addressed to a specific recipient not personally known to (the employee), such language has an element of intentional abuse and cannot be regarded under any circumstances as acceptable language,” he said.
“The misconduct constituted the use of language that was vulgar and offensive and was contained in an email identifying the University and (the employee’s) role at the University. (His) conduct was in breach of the University’s Code of Conduct and Email and Electronic Messaging Guidelines,” Bull said.
Commissioner Bull found that the employee had openly linked himself to the university in the emails, and so could not be considered anything other than a deliberate action “that seriously derogated from his duty”.