Post dismissal behaviour
If you try to search up anything relevant to what happens after being dismissed, chances are you would be directed to websites listing information on pursuing legal actions against your former employer. Or any “motivation tips” on how to get yourself back up in the job market. But what are the impacts of dismissal on employees? How does it affect the way people behave after being dismissed? Post dismissal behaviour has to be a consideration in employees moving forward.
We know about the psychological impact led by the grief of being dismissed or being forced to resign from a job. Such as the development of mental health related issues like anxiety and depression. We also know about the financial impact of losing your income. How affording, your grocery, paying for your bills and repaying your debts or mortgage become struggles. In some cultural groups the shear embarrassment of losing the job.
We have had clients suicide, numerous have had nervous breakdowns. These outcomes have to be avoided at all cost. On the other side we have seen employees take the law into their own hands threaten the ex employer, or take to social media in the most abusive way. Employees turn a legitimate unfair dismissal case into a mess. There are numerous Fair work Commission (Fair work Australia) decisions that consider post employment behaviour as part of the decision making process. Or as a consideration in the calculation of compensation.
There have been decisions where the employee has won the unfair dismissal case and be awarded nothing because of their behaviour after they were dismissed. The FWC unfair dismissal decisions are usually a public document. What potential employer wants to read about an employee applying for a job’s behaviour after they lost their job last time?
Impact of dismissal
However, there seems to be a lack of qualitative study done looking into the impact of dismissal in shifting the way people behave. The certain post-dismissal behaviors exhibited by people who have been dismissed from their jobs.
The grief of being dismissed is often associated with the feeling that they have been done “wrong” by their employers. That the dismissal is unfair, and their employers are using excuses to get rid of them. The only reason because of their personal bias or discriminatory belief. This can be the case, and under such circumstances employees can seek entitlements by lodging the relevant unfair dismissal or general protection applications to the Fair Work Commission. Or other discriminatory bodies, including the federal (AHRI). You would be shocked at how many articles you can find on google for “tips on firing people”. Or “how managers make unwanted employees go away”.
The perception that they have been done wrong generates the desire for these ex-employees to seek justice for themselves. To get revenge from their employers. Some people look to legal revenues to seek justice by taking the employers to the Fair Work Commission or relevant bodies. Others resort to other revenues, potentially violent and / or illegal behaviors, to outburst their agony for allegedly being treated unfairly. (as previously mentioned).
Taking legal actions
A recent example of ex-employees taking their employer to the court can be seen in the case of Transport Workers’ Union of Australia v Qantas Airways Limited  FCA 873 where ex-staffers who were made redundant had united to pursue a class action against Qantas Group.
Qantas, among other airline companies, had been gravely impacted by the shutdown of travelling due to the global pandemic. The Qantas Group incurred a substantial loss with international flights being cut down. As result, in August 2020, the company first announced the possibility of outsourcing its remaining ground-handling operations to third parties.
The decision was later confirmed by the company at the end of 2020. With about 2,000 Qantas staff being made redundant. Strangely enough, many of the staff who had been “made redundant” under the plan were members of the Transport Workers Union of Australia (TWU). With their enterprise bargaining agreement due to open for renegotiation around the time they were made redundant.
General protections claim
An action was brought by the employee’s union group (TWU) against Qantas Group under the FWC General Protections regime. General Protections are protections that employees are entitled to under their employment, and the employer cannot take adverse action against the employee due to a protected reason. In this case, the adverse action was reflected in Qantas’ decision to make the employees redundant.
The adverse action was alleged by the TWU to be taken to avoid the need to negotiate. To deal with the employee’s union as their enterprise bargaining agreement expired later that year, which would be a protected reason. Employees under the enterprise bargaining agreement would engage in a process of negation with their employers, accompanied by their representatives, about the terms of their employment. Employees exercising their rights to negotiate and engage with representatives would be protected under general protections from any adverse action carried out by their employers.
Compensation or reinstatement
Some ex-employees consider legal action against the employer in the hope of monetary compensation. They know that there is no prospect of returning to the company, but they want their entitlements from the company to do their justice. However, this General Protections claim against Qantas Group initially aimed to seek reinstatement of the staff who had been let go. Despite the unfair treatment, the staff considered injustice could be undone by restoring them to their original positions. That they had never been made redundant and could still keep their income.
Justice Lee in the Federal Court ruled that Qantas Group had failed to disprove that the cause of its decision to make the staff redundant. (in general protection claims reverse onus applies).That it was not to avoid dealing with the staff’s union and re-negotiating their agreement in relation to their enterprise bargaining agreement. Justice Lee also commented on Qantas’ behaviour, saying that Qantas should not “get away” with its wrongful conduct. In this sense, consider justice done for those employees being treated unfairly.
However, the employees’ quest for reinstatement was denied by the court. This was because compensation was considered a more appropriate remedy for the staff. So, is justice restored, noting that the employees’ desired outcome was rejected by the Federal Court? This decision has been appealed by the TWU.
The scenario between redundant staff and Qantas Group may not always be the case. Each case raises or falls on its own merits As some ex-employees may have a weak claim against their employers, or even have no case against the employers if they are dismissed based on valid reasons. These employees cannot get the “justice” they call for by taking legal action. Alternatively, some employees simply cannot afford to initiate legal proceedings, as legal actions can be stressful and costly.
They have to rely on other revenues to seek vengeance from their ex-employers. In some extreme cases may involve illegal actions. For instance, a UK man planned a revenge cyber-attack by hacking the company’s computers and blackmailing his ex-boss after being dismissed. On another occasion, an ex-employee in Brisbane sought revenge for being dismissed by facilitating theft against the employer. Illegal behaviors are obviously not encouraged and should be condoned. Lets be honest we are no longer in the wild west.
Conclusion to Post dismissal behaviour
I hope some of the article on post dismissal behaviour has been of some assistance for you. I know the focus is getting another job, paying the bills, I get that. All information can be helpful. Even if one line in this article helped, I’m glad. If I can be of assistance, you welcome to call me. My name is Gary Pinchen. We are leaders in workplace commentary, and representation. Want advice, call, its free, prompt and confidential.
Call 1800 333 666
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One of the nations leading workplace advisors, representatives and commentators. Gary has represented some 12,000 clients over some 20 plus years, published some 300 plus articles. He is passionate about employees rights and the test of fairness in the workplace. Have a problem, concern, wants to contribute to the debate or research, call him directly.