Employer Wins Costs Against Employee For Baseless Unfair Dismissal Claim

An individual has been ordered to repay their former employer for costs in defending a baseless unfair dismissal case.

The Fair Work Commission ruled that because the individual "should have known the unfair dismissal application had no reasonable grounds for success, the business should be reimbursed for costs accrued in defending it."

The Fair Work Commission ordered the individual, Joan Obuchowski, to repay costs to her former employer RNTT, which trades as Jobs Statewide Employment Solutions.

The Fair Work Commission found that Ms Obuchowski and her husband, also a former employee of the company, "knowingly breached the respondent's confidentiality and information technology policies", and that as such, her dismissal could not be deemed unfair.

"She attended the respondent's premises after she had decided that she would never be returning to work for them and physically removed at least one document and notebooks containing job seekers' personal information from those premises," senior deputy president Jonathan Hamberger found.

"She also deleted and directed her husband to delete emails and documents from the respondent's computer system."

Two weeks after the judgement was delivered, the business applied to the commission for costs to be awarded in defending the case.

The Fair Work Commission granted the application this week.

In his ruling, Commissioner Hamberger said: "In circumstances where Ms Obuchowski relied on factual assertions that she knew to be untrue, it is reasonable to conclude that her case was so lacking in merit or substance as to be not reasonably arguable. It follows that it should have been reasonably apparent to her that her application had no reasonable prospect of success,"

"[As such] I consider that a costs order is appropriate in the circumstances." he said.

"This is a big win for business." says Sean Wilson, CEO of Workforce Guardian - a leading Australian HR solutions provider.

"Workforce Guardian regularly defend employers against unfair dismissal claims. Defending claims can be time consuming and costly. Employers should be reimbursed for costs for false and vaxious claims." Sean said.

Need help with HR?

Call Workforce Guardian on 1300 659 563 or visit our website.