Employer policies; e-mail systems

An employer is entitled to publish policies and procedures, assuming that they are coherent and reasonable, about the standards of conduct which are expected of employees making use if the employer’s e-mail system.

“As a Full Bench of the Commission observed in Ronald Anderson v Thiess Pty Ltd  7:“In the employment context, the express terms of the employment contract, employer policies incorporated into or authorised by the employment contract, and the employer’s lawful and reasonable directions may also operate to impose significant constraints upon an employee’s freedom of expression. It is not necessary in this case to explore the outer limits of the extent to which an employer can place limits on the freedom of expression of the employee. It is sufficient to state two propositions: first, that it is well established that it is lawful and reasonable for an employer to require an employee to comply with policies and directions which control the nature of communications over the employer’s electronic communications system, and second, that objectively inappropriate and offensive communications by an employee in the workplace may, depending on the circumstances, constitute a valid reason for dismissal.” (Emphasis added, footnotes omitted).

The Respondent had clearly required the Applicant to comply with a number of policies, including the Bullying, Discrimination and Harassment policy, the Customer Service and Internal Conduct policy and the Offensive Language and Behaviour policy. The Respondent also had a Code of Conduct, and during the Applicant’s employment he was expected to abide by the Code of Conduct. Such policies were lawful and reasonable, and designed to protect employees……………………….Having considered each of the matters specified in section 387 of the Act, I am satisfied that the dismissal of the Applicant was not harsh, unjust or unreasonable. The Respondent had clearly required the Applicant to comply with a number of policies, including the Bullying, Discrimination and Harassment policy, the Customer Service and Internal Conduct policy and an Offensive Language and Behaviour policy. The Respondent also had a Code of Conduct and during the Applicant’s employment he was expected to abide by the Code of Conduct. Such policies were lawful and reasonable, and designed to protect employees.

Notwithstanding the Applicant’s knowledge of the requirements of those policies and the Code of Conduct, and the Respondent’s continual reinforcement of the requirements of those policies and the Code with the Applicant, the Applicant chose to disregard his obligations and conduct himself in a manner that was quite simply unreasonable, aggressive and offensive.”

Andonov v Carbridge Pty Ltd (2019) FWC 6607 delivered 1 October 2019 per Cross DP