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Billionaire and unfair dismissals

Rich employers watching their profits grow. Actually the billionaires in Australia are good people and take care of their employees. They have a more personal connection with their employees than the large corporates. The key is they must take care of all their employees and they must not leave anybody behind. Billionaire and unfair dismissals really relates to all large employers.

Employer forced to pay $60K to dismissed workers

The immediate dismissal of 125 workers by a Clive Palmer-owned business has seen the mining billionaire forced to pay over $60,000 by the Fair Work Commission. The employees had been working on the $100 million refurbishment of Clive Palmer’s Coolum Resort on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

Three employees lodged unfair dismissal claims against the business, with all three winning huge payouts. In this article, we detail two of these unfair dismissal cases, which reveal some very dodgy practices by Palmer’s business.

Dismissed electrician for Palmer-owned resort wins over $40K

The first Fair Work Commission case involving an ex-Palmer worker is Troy Peters v Drewmaster Pty. Ltd. [2024]. Troy Peters began working as an electrician for Drewmaster in March 2021. The company is a subsidiary of Clive Palmer’s Mineralogy company. On 8 August 2023, a number of employees working on the resort’s refurbishment attended a pre-start meeting. During this meeting, the employees raised their concerns with changes to their work roster by Drewmaster’s management.

The roster changes had been made without any consultation with the workers. One of the key changes was the removal of a “paid smoko,” which particularly upset Mr Peters. During the meeting, he voiced his frustration, stating: “Why no smoko? Why 1hr lunch? What if we can’t do the [new roster] because of commitments outside of work?” Following the meeting, a senior Drewmaster manager appeared before the workers and told them all to go home. Mr Peters complied.

Some employees are constantly stressed worrying about the loss of their job. They know they cannot compete with wealthy employers. However we can, give us a call. Billionaire and unfair dismissals is to demonstrate you can seek justice and compensation.

125 workers dismissed via email, allegations of fraud

Later that night at 8pm, Mr Peters was one of 125 Drewmaster employees to receive an email telling them they had been dismissed. The email stated that the workers present at the pre-start meeting had made it clear that they “did not intend on working the required site hours.” It also stated that “we note that you did not voice any opposition to this.”

Drewmaster highlighted in the email that “all workers onsite are paid far in excess of the award wage.” And that it was conducting a “substantial site workplace investigation” into “fraud, theft and other matters of dishonesty” it believed was taking place on the worksite. It said that the investigation had so far “uncovered a large amount of dishonesty and theft.” And as such, “work on the site must be in accordance with normal industry work time.” Drewmaster said “no decision has been made by Management as yet to report the matter to police.”

The email ended by saying the company had “no other choice but to terminate your employment” for “refusing to carry out your duties as directed.” And that Drewmaster was “very disappointed by this and the actions of all construction employees.”

Worker asked to reapply for job

20 minutes after receiving his dismissal email, Mr Peters received another more perplexing email. The subject line read “Construction job Application” and featured the heading “Now hiring skilled construction workers.” The email however did not outline who the employer was.

It was later revealed that at the same time it sacked Mr Peters and 125 workers, Palmer Coolum Resort had dismissed Drewmaster as its building company. It subsequently hired Min Constructions Pty Ltd, another company owned by Mr Palmer.

Many employers particulary in small business money is their god. Larger business know they have to do the right thing, comply with the laws and treat people fairly. They know employees have rights.

Worker makes his argument to Fair Work

Having felt he had been unfairly treated, Mr Peters subsequently lodged an unfair dismissal application with the Fair Work Commission. He stated that “it appeared [Drewmaster] had no interest in addressing any of our concerns.” And that he believed the company “thought [it] easier to terminate everybody’s employment.”

In its response to Mr Peter’s Fair Work claim, Drewmaster said that it had fired him for refusing to comply with its new work hours. However, Mr Peters denied he had ever refused but had simply voiced concerns with the updated hours. Namely, that he could not work the hours due to his shared custody of two primary school aged children. Mr Peters told the Fair Work Commission that he had previously had an agreement with a previous director. This agreement allowed him to alternate full-time and part-time hours so he could look after his kids.

Employer accused worker of fraud

In its response to Mr Peters’ unfair dismissal claim, Drewmaster alleged that he had colleagues log in to his digital time sheet for him on days when he was not working. The company claimed that he had 78 days of unexplained absences totaling in an overpayment of $30,000.

However, Mr Peters denied any of this. He argued that the digital timesheet app was “a flawed system, consistently failing, with delays. . . glitches, poor connectivity.” To prove his innocence, he provided the Fair Work Commission with mobile phone records that showed he made calls from Palmer owned properties on more than 25 of his so-called absent days. Mr Peters also said that Drewmaster employees weren’t able to access the digital timesheet app screens when working offsite.

Employees, certainly in managment and senior positions who have incentive and bonus schemes its all about the money. Many do whatever it takes to make money. You see this in the finance and banking industry for example. If this means walking over employees, bullying employees, so be it.

“Sham process”: Fair Work blasts employer

At Mr Peters’ unfair dismissal hearing, the Fair Work Commission took issue with the way Drewmaster had fired him then asked him to reapply for his job. It described this as a “sham process” and “scattergun approach to industrial relations.”

The Commission found that Mr Peters had been denied procedural fairness. Namely, that he was not given the chance to respond to Drewmaster’s claim that he was refusing to work. It was also noted that when the company fired the 125 employees, it included its HR specialist.

The Fair Work Commission also found Drewmaster had no evidence to support its claim that fraud and theft was taking place at the resort. It said that the company did not have the right to describe it as an emergency. And that it did not necessitate the mass sacking of its workers.

No proof of timesheet fraud

The Fair Work Commission found that Drewmaster’s investigation into Mr Peters’ timesheet data was “incomplete and unsatisfactory.” It said that the phone records he provided showed that there were technical issues with the digital time sheet app.

“A proper investigation by [Drewmaster], prior to the [electrician’s] termination, may have resulted in this technical difficulty being identified,” the Fair Work Commission said. “I do not accept the evidence of [the general manager] that the only reason Tanda would malfunction was due to human error.”

Drewmaster was also called out for not bringing up Mr Peters’ alleged time fraud while he was employed by the company. In the end, the Fair Work Commission accepted that Drewmaster did not prove the time fraud. Therefore, it did not have a valid reason to dismiss him.

Female-employee-on-a-private-jet-with -a-glass-of-champagne.
Young blonde elegant female employee sitting inside the private jet airplane and holding a glass of champagne. She might be on a business trip. Don’t be seduced by a wealthy employer with gift or trips. You need to be treated and paid properly. One case we had was the employer gave everybody a gucci handbag but didn’t pay penalaity rates or overtime. The employees thought the employer was great. They didn’t realize they were being ripped off.

Worker wins huge unfair dismissal payout

In determining Mr Peters’ financial compensation, the Fair Work Commission noted that he has had difficulty finding full-time work since his sacking. It also took into account that there was no valid reason for his dismissal. And that he had been denied procedural fairness.

The Fair Work Commission determined that Mr Peters would have remained employed by Drewmaster for a further year. It therefore ordered the company to pay him $39,917 plus superannuation.

Another Drewmaster employee awarded over $12K

Another Clive Palmer employee took him to the Fair Work Commission, as detailed in the dismissal case Mr Sean Fitzpatrick v Drewmaster Pty. Ltd. [2024]. Sean Fitzpatrick had begun working for Drewmaster in April 2021 as an electrician. On 4 August 2023 he received an email from the company outlining the changes to employee work hours. Unlike Mr Peters, he did not attend the prestart meeting on 8 August 2024 where the changes were discussed.

He did not receive the dismissal email that Mr Peters and 125 Drewmaster employees received later that day. So the next day, on 9 August 2024, Mr Fitzpatrick turned up for work at 5:20am and signed in at the gate and on his digital time sheet. He proceeded to the office HR office where he was met by the new site manager. The manager asked Mr Fitzpatrick how he had entered the site and told him that he “should not be there.” Security was then called to escort him off the site.

Worker received termination email

It was at this point that Mr Fitzpatrick told the site manager that he had not received the dismissal email. But at 11:13am that morning, the email hit his inbox, detailing the mass fraud at the work site and the refusal of employees to work. And just like Mr Peters, five minutes later he received a second email asking him to reapply for his job.

A few days later, Mr Fitzpatrick received a phone call from the site supervisor. He told the Fair Work Commission that the supervisor was calling on behalf of the site manager “to ask if I was coming back as my knowledge of the job was needed.” Mr Fitzpatrick told the supervisor that he would not be returning. This episode was particularly perplexing for him. In his unfair dismissal claim, Mr Fitzpatrick said to the Fair Work Commission that if he was being investigated for severe misconduct, “why would Drewmaster re hire me.” 

Businesess need to innovate, get new ideas, have a social justice adjenda, not unfairly sack people.

Drewmaster makes a mess of dismissal process

Mr Fitzpatrick told the Fair Work Commission that his dismissal email had stated that he had attended the prestart meeting on 9 August 2023. And that he did not intend to work given the changes to employee hours. Mr Fitzpatrick denied this was the case. He also noted that the prestart meeting actually took place on 8 August 2023, when he was on leave to attend to his ill son.

Mr Fitzpatrick also said that he had never been told beforehand about plans to change work hours, or why they were changed. He also noted that Drewmaster then altered the reason for his sacking. In an email received on 25 August 2023, the company said he had been fired for serious misconduct. That is, rather than refusing to work.

Employer alleges time fraud

Mr Fitzpatrick said that Drewmaster again changed the reasons in its response to his unfair dismissal claim. The company alleged that he had been absent from the site for 64 days. It then later changed that to 103 days, but Mr Fitzpatrick had still been paid for those days.

He denied that he had committed time fraud, providing his phone records to prove he was present on the alleged days of absence. Mr Fitzpatrick also told the Fair Work Commission that the digital time sheet was often glitchy and did not work.

Employer makes further allegations

Drewmaster claimed that Mr Fitzpatrick had caused a number of difficulties during the refurbishment of the resort. This included “completely unnecessary (and excessive) and unauthorised stripping out of villas of their electrical services.” And that a pool pump room had been “completely vandalised and totally stripped for no apparent reason.”

The company also alleged that Mr Fitzpatrick had created a bias of preferential supplier treatment to the financial detriment of Drewmaster. And that he had also started and run his own business as an electrician. The company said that this beached his duties of good faith and loyalty to Drewmaster.

All jobs are important to somebody. All employees need to be treated with respect.

Fair Work provides ruling

At Mr Fitzpatrick’s unfair dismissal hearing, the Fair Work Commission found that there was no credence to allegations that he had unnecessarily stripped various rooms of electrical equipment. It also accepted that there was no evidence that he had provided preferential treatment to supplier in detriment to Drewmaster.

With regard to time fraud, the Fair Work Commission found that allegation did not stand up to scrutiny too. Regarding running his own company, Mr Fitzpatrick admitted to the Fair Work Commission that he had been doing so either after hours or on his days off. It was therefore accepted that Mr Fitzpatrick’s business did not conflict with his job at Drewmaster. However, under cross examination he admitted that he had sent quotes and invoices to customers on occasion using Drewmaster’s computer.

Drewmaster’s argument that “all employees must be focussed on their job 100% of their workday” were determined to be “irrational.” But the Fair Work Commission accepted that as head electrician, Mr Fitzpatrick “had a responsibility to set the appropriate ethos for his department. This did not occur.” Based on this, it was determined that Drewmaster had a valid reason to terminate his employment.

Worker awarded huge unfair dismissal payout

Despite finding Drewmaster had a valid reason to sack Mr Fitzpatrick, the Fair Work Commission found he had been “denied any semblance of procedural fairness.” Also, that “the level of misconduct was minor compared to the consequence of his termination.”

As such, Mr Fitzpatrick’s sacking was ruled as harsh and unfair. Drewmaster was subsequently ordered to pay him $12,516 in compensation.

AI is replacing employees. It is changing the dyamics of how work forces will be constructed. In Australia we are setting ourselves up for failure. We have some of the most expensive labour cost and wages in the world. It forces employers to find ways of reducing the workforce. They almost have no choice if companies want to compete in the world markets. We know Asia has cheaper labour, so what do we do is to put wages up. Its kind of dumb when you think about it. Productivity is the key to driving working wages higher. Careful you don’t become a victim of this.

Conclusion to: Billionaire and unfair dismissals

Our team at A Whole New Approach has helped over 16,000 workers from across Australia take action via the Fair Work Commission. If you have faced redundancy issues, discrimination, bullying, workplace harassment or other employee rights violation’s, we can help.

 We can provide expert guidance to take action through the Fair Work Commission. And to help ensure you hold your employer accountable and receive just compensation. Stay away from toxic workplaces, we will give you advice how to do that. We are not lawyers but the nations leading workplace advisors and commentators. AWNA are proud of their staff and the outcomes they get for our clients.

Call us today for a complimentary and confidential consultation on  1800 333 666.

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