Sacking was ‘harsh and unreasonable’
The Fair Work Commission has ruled in favour of a former senior employee at the Gorgon Liquefied Natural Gas Project on Barrow Island in an unfair dismissal case against gas giant Chevron Australia.
Last month the commission heard Robert Solin had been a production technician for Chevron, based on Barrow Island, when he allegedly made derogatory comments relating to indigenous Australians during a conversation with co-workers on board a staff bus.
He was immediately dismissed in October, 2016 after an investigation into the incident which determined his comments went against the company’s values.
However, the Fair Work Commission ruled in Mr Solin’s favour under the Fair Work Act.
Commissioner Bruce Williams told the hearing while Mr Solin’s comments had caused upset and offence to other employees, his dismissal had been “harsh and unreasonable”.
He said he accepted Mr Solin’s comments were not directed at any one person and he had apologised and appeared to have learned his lesson.
“It is difficult to understand how it can be said that Mr Solin’s momentary lack of attention to his surroundings as he sat amongst his friends at the back of the bus at 5am in the morning demonstrates he does not in any way accept Chevron’s values,” he said.
“The evidence is that what occurred is the only instance of speaking inappropriately in the workplace in the three years of his employment with Chevron.
“There is no basis to conclude that Mr Solin has not learned his lesson and is likely to repeat this type of behaviour.”
He ordered Mr Solin to be reinstated to his former position with Chevron, but did not order compensation for his lost salary in his months of unemployment.