Baggage handler’s ISIS gibe ‘did not merit sack’
A Perth baggage handler sacked for posting “we all support ISIS” on his Facebook page has won compensation after the Fair Work Commission found he was unfairly dismissed.
In a 367-paragraph decision, commissioner Jennifer Hunt found the Facebook post by Nirmal Singh (pictured), which he insisted was sarcastic, was very stupid, outrageous and ridiculous. But she found his employer, Aerocare Flight Support, should have spent more time investigating Mr Singh’s claim that he was opposed to Islamic State before sacking him.
“A more thorough investigation, including obtaining a written account from Mr Singh, would have satisfied Aerocare that Mr Singh did not support ISIS,’’ she said. “A reasonable conclusion would then be that the ISIS post was an incredibly stupid post to have been made.’’
Aerocare sacked Mr Singh in October last year, finding he had published a series of Facebook posts that included “radical statements against the Australian government’’.
But rather than sacking him, Ms Hunt said Aerocare should have sought his assurances that he would comply with its social media policy and warn that any further breaches would result in dismissal.
“My finding, however, should not suggest that it is acceptable for employees in the relevant airport environment to post what appears to be support for a terrorist organisation and explain it away as sarcasm, comedy or satire,’’ she said.
“Mr Singh did a very stupid thing. I expect that even if the ISIS post had been made within (his membership of a) secret Facebook group, he would have met with derision and likely reporting to authorities of his post.
“The ISIS post does not even have the look of sarcasm. It is not witty. It is not funny. It is a ridiculous post.’’
She found the dismissal of Ms Singh, who did not seek reinstatement given he has a new job, was harsh, unjust and unreasonable.
Mr Singh has sought compensation amounting to $7000 in lost wages. But under the Fair Work Act, the commission must reduce the amount of compensation if it is satisfied the employee’s misconduct contributed to a dismissal.
“I have found earlier that the ISIS post made by Mr Singh breached the (social media) policy,’’ she said.
“Accordingly, Mr Singh making the ISIS post constitutes misconduct. I understand that Mr Singh did not think his actions could be linked to the workplace, however that assumption was incorrect.’’
She reduced the amount payable by Aerocare by 40 per cent, ordering the company to pay $4800 to Mr Singh.
This is a copy of an article published by theaustralian.com.au on 12 September 2016.
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