It used to be the case that in determining whether an employer had made out a case of misconduct for the purposes of justifying a dismissal for cause (for example a summary dismissal for gross misconduct) the test for the industrial tribunals was not whether the alleged conduct had occurred, but whether the employer had conducted a reasonable investigation and there were reasonable grounds for its findings, irrespective of whether the employer got it right or not. That is no longer the case, as is seen from King v Freshmore (Vic) Pty Ltd Print S4213, 17 March 2000, per Ross VP, Williams SDP and Hingley C.
“When a reason for a termination is based on the conduct of the employee, the Commission must, if it is an issue in the proceedings challenging the termination, determine whether the conduct occurred. The obligation to make such a determination flows from s.170CG(3)(a). The Commission must determine whether the alleged conduct took place and what it involved.
The question of whether the alleged conduct took place and what it involved is to be determined by the Commission on the basis of the evidence in the proceedings before it. The test is not whether the employer believed, on reasonable grounds after sufficient enquiry, that the employee was guilty of the conduct which resulted in termination.”
Personally, I am not sure whether this is fair on employers, many of whom lack the resources and technical experience to conduct an enquiry with the same prospects of forensic integrity as the Fair Work Commission.
Nevertheless I don’t make the laws.