A one off error of judgment, or act of negligence or carelessness, is not enough to constitute a valid reason for dismissal, even in the presence of a zero tolerance policy, and even in a safety sensitive industry such as aviation unless there is absolutely no doubt that the policy is understood by all employees and applied always to the letter.
“Termination in these circumstances is not defensible or justifiable on an objective analysis of the facts understood by employees at the time the decision was made. A zero tolerance policy, carrying with it the very real prospect of dismissal for a single breach, requires unequivocal communication to employees. There was no evidence that this was done. That senior managers knew of the policy is no substitute.”
O’Brian v MSS Security Pty Ltd (2016) FWC 105 delivered 1 February 2016 per Booth C